Use of dashes in writing

I wish you would—oh, never mind. An answer key in the back encourages readers to work at their own pace.

Dashes replace otherwise mandatory punctuation, such as the commas after Iowa and in the following examples: Whichever length you choose, use it consistently throughout your document.

The man from Ames, Iowa, arrived. In the 15th century—when of course nobody had electricity—water was often pumped by hand. When you are not sure if you can use a dash in your writing, remember how William Strunk Jr. You are the friend—the only friend—who offered to help me.

Producing the em dash Many modern word processors will automatically insert an em dash when you type a pair of hyphens. I pay the bills—she has all the fun. I attached the photo to my email—at least I hope I did! Note, however, that dashes are always more emphatic than commas.

Top Five Grammar Blog Posts. Em dashes in place of parentheses A pair of em dashes can replace a pair of parentheses. However, when you want a phrase or another part of the sentence to have extra emphasis, a dash may be used.

Dashes are considered less formal than parentheses; they are also more intrusive. Take a look at this sentence: Those marks serve different purposes and are further explained in other sections.

Surrounding punctuation should be placed as usual. My brothers—Richard and John—are visiting Hanoi. Do not use dashes to set apart material when commas would do the work for you.

Em dashes in place of commas A pair of em dashes can be used in place of commas to enhance readability. Unlike other forms of punctuation, the dash does not have one specific usage.

The May 1,edition of the Ames Sentinel arrived in June. The emphasis is added in order to show that Tony could do nothing in this situation.

Since the writer could have used commas, why did she choose to use dashes? Use a dash to show that letters or words are missing: Joe—and his trusty mutt—was always welcome.

I pay the bills; she has all the fun. Look at the following sentence: The man—he was from Ames, Iowa—arrived.

For more information about this book, click here. Joe — and his trusty mutt — was always welcome. A dash is a mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than parentheses.

Typically used in "missing word" questions. When used in place of parentheses at the end of a sentence, only a single dash is used. We seldom see the dash used this way in formal, academic prose. In normal circumstances, other punctuation marks commascolonsor parentheses should be used.

If you want to draw attention to the parenthetical content, use dashes. The dash is less formal than the colon.Dashes, like commas, semicolons, colons, ellipses, and parentheses, indicate added emphasis, an interruption, or an abrupt change of thought. Experienced writers know that.

What this handout is about. This handout explains the most common uses of three kinds of punctuation: semicolons (;), colons (:), and dashes (—).

After reading the handout, you will be better able to decide when to use these forms of punctuation in your own writing. Use a dash [ —] (or two hyphens [ --] on old-fashioned typewriters) or dashes as a super-comma or set of super-commas to set off parenthetical elements, especially when those elements contain internal forms of punctuation.

All four of them—Bob, Jeffrey, Jason, and Brett—did well in college. In most word-processors, the dash is created by holding down the option key and hitting the key. If you want to draw attention to the parenthetical content, use dashes. If you want to include the parenthetical content more subtly, use parentheses.

Note that when dashes are used in place of parentheses, surrounding punctuation should be omitted. Oct 22,  · When using dashes this way, you are allowed only one per sentence.

The second main category is the Parenthetical Dash, in which dashes are deployed in pairs and set off nonessential elements of the sentence.

If the writing is for a textbook to be read by university students and professors, the writing should be (in most situations) considered formal. However, if the writing is a letter to a friend, or perhaps dialogue in a novel, the writing may be considered informal.

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Use of dashes in writing
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