Hyphens and Dashes

It’s easy to get confused between the hyphen (-) and the dash (–).

The Hyphen

Where should the hyphen be put to make these clearer?

Father to be stabbed to death in bar

30 odd members

Old furniture dealer

A little known city

Recovered the sofa

David Crystal describes the hyphen as “the most unpredictable of marks.” It can however remove ambiguity from a sentence (see examples above).

A hyphen is the shorter mark that is often used to link two or more words together. It can also be seen at the end of a line to break up a whole word that won’t fit into the space.

Some hyphenated words:

user-friendly                 up-to-date          jump-start           well-known 

back-to-back                part-time            next-to-last         short-term

The Dash

The Dash is the longer line used as punctuation in sentences – often instead of a comma or brackets.

Trump won the election—granted, Clinton got the popular vote—but he won.

Geeky fact

There are actually two types of dash, the en-dash and the em-dash. The en-dash is the shorter version of the dash, named en-dash as it should be the same length as the letter ‘n’.

To insert an en-dash, try typing:     1993 then space, then – then 1995 then space. It will convert to 1993 – 1995.

To insert an em-dash, type ‘Something’ then –, then ‘Something’ again with no gaps, Word will automatically change it to Something—Something.



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