Answered By: Writing Center
Last Updated: Nov 10, 2015     Views: 1

There are actually three ways that a dash can be used:

A Hyphen (-) is used to connect two or more words or numbers into a single idea. Many times they are used to build adjectives. Hyphens are also used for compound surnames and are a necessary element when writing out the numbers 21 through 99.

o The Spanish-American War occurred during 1898.
o The in-class assignment was easy to complete.
o The 16-ounce jars were perfect for jam.
o Mrs. Smith-Wessel concluded the discussion with a quote.
o Even though my father is fifty-one years old, he always makes sure to keep in shape.

Hyphens are also used to separate syllables for words that cannot fit completely on a line of print, though this is more common in book printings than in academic writing.

An En-dash (-), while it looks exactly like a hyphen in text, is used to show ranges in dates or time.

o My class runs from 10:30-11:45 am every Tuesday and Thursday.
o Sometimes Bowling Green's winter season seems to happen from October-April.

An Em-dash (—) is used to show a sentence shift or break, taking the place of commas, semi-colons, and colons. It either gives more emphasis to new material or allows new material to be added where it would otherwise not be worked smoothly in the sentence.

o In addition to reading quizzes, the students were given periodic examinations—in other words, they were studying quite a bit.
o If these facts were true—modern science proves they are—they would create a radical shift in our outlook on the universe.

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