Monday, September 20

What’s The Difference Between Dashes and Hyphens?

To the passive reader, its a short horizontal line that appears someplace in a text, generally joining two words together.

Dashes and hyphens.

To a writer, its something else completely, but what? Is it a dash, a hyphen, or a minus sign?

More than once, Ive been pecking away at my keyboard and stopped all of a sudden when faced with this versatile and confounding punctuation mark.

Many individuals use dashes and hyphens interchangeably, which is understandable, because most of us utilize the specific very same keyboard character for both dashes and hyphens. They are technically 2 totally different punctuation marks.

When you use these punctuation marks, do you understand whether youre using them as dashes or hyphens?

This post looks at the following punctuation marks:



A hyphen is utilized to link words in order to form a compound. It was also used commonly throughout the typewriter period to show that a word was broken at a carriage return, however that usage is seldom seen nowadays. Examples include:

There are two types of dashes: the em dash (–) and the en (-) dash.

When they are not affixed to a base word, hyphens are also used to signify suffixes and prefixes. An example would be re- or -ed.

Specific modifier combinations call for hyphenation. When two modifiers together modify another word, they are typically hyphenated. For example, in the phrase “real-world scenarios,” the words genuine and world are linked with a hyphen. Keep in mind that genuine customizes world (the world is real) and as a single unit (a hyphenated modifier), the two words together customize circumstance. This is basic practice when one modifier customizes another to form a single modifier to a noun or verb.



Hyphenated Modifiers

Note, nevertheless, that adverb-adjective combinations are not usually hyphenated. For instance, a “well understood idea” is not hyphenated (well is an adverb customizing the adjective comprehended).

The Em Dash

This is also called the double dash– and appropriately so– because it in fact consists of two dashes without spacing before or after either one. Do note that the spacing is up for argument as some style guides and writers include a single space before and after the em dash, particularly in online publishing due to concerns with how internet browsers read and show particular punctuation marks.

The em dash is utilized to stimulate focus or to “set off a component included to enhance or to digress from the primary stipulation” (Publication Manual of the APA, 2001, p. 291).

The En Dash

An en dash is utilized more like a hyphen due to the fact that it links words. This connection forms a substance adjective where each specific word has equal weight.

Why are they called em and en dashes?

A hyphen is used to link words in order to form a substance. It was also utilized typically during the typewriter period to show that a word was broken at a carriage return, however that usage is seldom seen these days. In the phrase “real-world circumstances,” the words real and world are connected with a hyphen. An en dash is utilized more like a hyphen because it links words. How do you utilize dashes and hyphens in your writing?

In typesetting, the em dash is the same width as the letter m, while the en dash matches the width of the letter n. Its interesting to note that technically, a hyphen should be a tad bit much shorter than the en dash. Computers and typewriters only have the one punctuation mark (right above the p key) which should do triple responsibility (hyphen, em dash, and en dash), so unless youre a professional typesetter, theres no requirement to fret about determining your marks.

How do you utilize dashes and hyphens in your writing? Do you have any concerns or thoughts to include about punctuation marks in general? Leave a comment.

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