What are En Dashes and Em Dashes? (with Examples)
What are En Dashes and Em Dashes? (with Examples)A dash (—) is a punctuation mark with several uses. A dash should not be confused with a hyphen (-) which is used as a joiner in compound adjectives (e.g., first-class restaurant) and compound nouns (e.g., water-bottle).
Dashes are slightly longer than hyphens when handwritten. (As most keyboards do not have a dash readily at hand, some writers use two hyphens (--) to represent a dash, but most just use a hyphen.)
Read more about dashes.
Dashes do not have a unique use (i.e., they are used in places where other punctuation marks could be used). For example:
Dashes As ParenthesesDashes (generally, em dashes) can be used as parentheses. For example:
- On Saturday, I took the club secretary (Pat Derbyshire) to Skegness.
- On Saturday, I took the club secretary - Pat Derbyshire - to Skegness. (commas could also be used)
A Dash As a Pause for EffectA dash (generally, an em dash) can replace three dots when used as a pause for effect. For example:
- I eventually found it...in my shoe.
- I eventually found it — in my shoe.
A Dash in Place of a SemicolonA dash (generally, an em dash) can replace a semicolon used to merge two independent clauses. For example:
- He cannot afford it; the flight alone is too much.
- He cannot afford it — the flight alone is too much.
A Dash in Place of a ColonA dash (generally, an em dash) can be used to replace a colon to introduce an appositive. For example:
- She is only interested in one thing: money.
- She is only interested in one thing — money.
A Dash to Replace From..To... or Between...And...A dash (generally, an en dash) can be used between times and dates. For example:
- 14 February–24 February
A Dash in Place of a Hyphen in a Compound Adjective with Equal PartsA dash (generally, an en dash) can replace a hyphen in a compound adjective with two equal elements. For example:
- The India–Pakistan issue
- The Smith–Jones case
A Dash to Credit a QuotationA dash (always an em dash) can be used to credit a quoation. For example:
- "Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever
they go." — Oscar Wilde