How to Use A Dash in A Sentence

writing tip for using dashes in a sentence

Happy (Writer) Wednesday, good people!

Today's post is to hopefully clear up a common punctuation mark mistake. (I'm guilty of making this mistake, that's why I felt it necessary to share my research results.)

Dashes and hyphens. which is which?

RELATED: 3 ways to use hyphens with words.

First, let me start by saying that dashes are longer than hyphens and there are two types: en dash and em dash. Em dashes are the longest of the three punctuation marks and can be typed by combining two hyphens if there isn't a keyboard option for em dashes. Additionally, em dashes are used to separate information within a sentence. In some cases, they can be substitutes for commas and parentheses. For example:

All of George's children--Halian, Henry and Huck--were raised in Compton, California.

Notice that I used two hyphens (a bootleg em dash) to separate and clarify a portion of the sentence in the above example.

En dashes, however, are used in a sentence to include range, show partnership, replace "versus," and/or connect a prefix to a proper open compound. For example:

The homework assignment is to read pages 10–15. (range)
The Harvey–Jones paper received and A+. (partnership of equal pairing)
The Los Angeles Sparks–Atlanta Dream basketball game was exciting.

(replace "versus")
Halian learned pre–World War II facts in her history class. (prefix & open compound)


- (hyphen)
(en dash)
-- or (em dash)

I hope these punctuation mark tips help with your future writing(s).

Remember: Always strive to #LookBetterInWriting.