Dashes and Hyphens
Consider dashes by their lengths: the shortest connect things that are most closely related.
1. The shortest "dash," known as the hyphen, connects two words like China-based (a compound adjective) or two-thirds (a compound noun).
2. The medium dash, known as the en dash, indicates a relationship between two things or a range of time, distance, or other values: the Giants–Dodgers game, May–September, a Chicago–Toledo flight, pp. 11–12. They also form compound adjectives containing more than two words: Cold War–era technology. En dashes are helpful in resumé writing.
3. The longest dash, known as the em dash, is usually used in place of parentheses to indicate a though that is tangentially related to the sentence, or sometimes to briefly define terms or give examples. Em dashes can also replace NE commas. Finally, em dashes can also be used to indcate something missing or repeated in a List of References. Examples:
- I wondered—to myself, of course—how close I was to mastering punctuation.
- I wondered, to myself, of course, how close I was to mastering punctuation.
- I wondered (to myself, of course) how close I was to mastering punctuation.
Dashes and Hyphen Links