Sunday, January 5, 2020
How to Use a Dash
The dash (Ã¢â¬â)Ã is a mark of punctuationÃ used to set off a word or phrase after an independent clause or a parenthetical remark (words, phrases, or clauses that interrupt a sentence). Dont confuse the dash (Ã¢â¬â) with the hyphen (-): the dash is longer. As William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White explained in The Elements of Style: AÃ dashÃ is a mark of separation stronger than aÃ Ã¢â¬â¹comma, less formal than aÃ colon, and more relaxed thanÃ Ã¢â¬â¹parentheses. There are actually two types of dashes, each with different uses: theÃ em dashÃ¢â¬âalso called the long dash, according to Oxford Online DictionariesÃ¢â¬âand theÃ en dash, which doesnt have another name but falls between the hyphen and em dash in terms of length.Ã TheÃ en dashÃ is so named because it is approximately the equivalent width of the uppercase letterÃ NÃ and theÃ em dashÃ is roughly the width of an uppercaseÃ M. Origins Merriam-Webster says the wordÃ dashÃ comes from theÃ Middle English wordÃ dasshen, which probably derives from the Middle French termÃ dachier,Ã meaning to impel forward. One current definition of the wordÃ dashÃ is to break, which would well describe what a dash does in syntax. TheÃ Online Etymology DictionaryÃ says the dashÃ¢â¬âa horizontal line used as a punctuation markÃ¢â¬âfirst appeared in writing and printing in the 1550s. By the late 1800s, the dash had taken on some very specific roles. According toÃ Thomas MacKellar, in his 1885 book, The American Printer: A Manual of Typography : The em dash...is frequently used in particular works as a substitute for the comma or for the colon, and is found particularly serviceable in rhapsodical writing, where interrupted sentences frequently occur. Ã MacKellar noted several specific uses for the dash, including: A sign of repetition in catalogs of goods, where it meansÃ ditto.In catalogs of books, where it was used instead of repeating an authors name.As a stand-in for the wordsÃ toÃ andÃ till, as in chap. xvi. 13-17. The last use would today be anÃ en dash, which indicates a range. The En Dash Though the Associated Press does not use theÃ en dash, the press service nicely describes how other stylesÃ doÃ use the shorter dash.Ã Some other styles call forÃ en dashesÃ to indicate ranges of dates, times, or page numbers, or with some compound modifiers. For example: He worked from 9Ã¢â¬â5.Ã She works from 8 a.m.Ã¢â¬â5 p.m.The festival will take place March 15Ã¢â¬â31.For your homework, read pages 49Ã¢â¬â64. To create anÃ en dashÃ using a keyboard on a Windows-based system, hold down the Alt key and simultaneously type 0150. To create this punctuation mark on aÃ Macintosh-based systemÃ hold down the OptionÃ keyÃ and press the Minus keyÃ [-].Ã American Psychological Association notes that you would use theÃ en dashÃ for: Items of equal weight (testÃ¢â¬âretest, maleÃ¢â¬âfemale, the ChicagoÃ¢â¬âLondon flight).Page ranges (in references, Ã¢â¬Å"...Journal of Applied Psychology,Ã 86, 718Ã¢â¬â729Ã¢â¬ ).Other types of ranges (16Ã¢â¬â30 kHz). Angela Gibson, writing for the MLA Style Center, a writing resource for the Modern Languages Association, says the organization uses an en dash when a single compound adjective is a proper noun, as in: PreÃ¢â¬âIndustrial Revolution city. She notes that the MLA also calls for anÃ en dash when a compound in the predicate position includes a proper noun: The crowd was BeyoncÃ © KnowlesÃ¢â¬âobsessed. The Em Dash The AP, which does useÃ em dashes, explains that these punctuation marks areÃ used: To signal an abrupt change.To set off a series within a phrase.Before attribution to an author or composer in some formats.After datelines.To start lists. AP style calls for a space on both sides of anÃ emÃ dash, but most other styles, including MLA and APA, omit the spaces. On a Windows-based system, you can form anÃ em dashÃ on a keyboard by holding down the Alt key and typingÃ Ã¢â¬â¹0151. To create the em dash on a Macintosh-based system, hold down theÃ ShiftÃ andÃ OptionÃ keys and press theÃ MinusÃ key [-], notesÃ Techwalla, adding that alternatively, you can press theÃ HyphenÃ key twice and pressÃ Space. There are two basic ways to use anÃ em dashÃ in a sentence: After an independent clause: Author Saul Below, in My Paris, provides an example of using anÃ em dashÃ after an independent clause: Life, said Samuel Butler, is like giving a concert on the violin while learning to play the instrumentÃ¢â¬âthat, friends, is real wisdom. To set off words and phrases:Ã Writers have effectively usedÃ em dashesÃ to shoehorn a parenthetical thought or remark into a sentence, as this quote illustrates: Copper Lincoln centsÃ¢â¬âpale zinc-coated steel for a year in the warÃ¢â¬âfigure in my earliest impressions of money.Ã¢â¬âJohn Updike, A Sense of Change,Ã The New Yorker, April 26, 1999 Thoughts on the Dash For a tiny punctuation mark, the dash has sparked an unusual level of debate among writers, grammarians, and punctuation experts. The dash is seductive, says Ernest Gowers in The Complete Plain Words, a style, grammar, and punctuation reference guide. It tempts the writer to use it as a punctuation-maid-of-all-work that saves him the trouble of choosing the right stop. Some have expressed support for the dash: The dash is less formal than the semicolon, which makes it more attractive; it enhances conversational tone; and...it is capable of quite subtle effects. The main reason people use it, however, is that they know you cant use it wrongly.Ã¢â¬âLynne Truss, Eats, Shoots Leaves Other writers strenuously oppose using the mark: The problem with theÃ dashÃ¢â¬âas you may have noticed!Ã¢â¬âis that it discourages truly efficient writing. It alsoÃ¢â¬âand this might be its worst sinÃ¢â¬âdisrupts the flow of a sentence. Dont you find it annoyingÃ¢â¬âand you can tell me if you do, I wont be hurtÃ¢â¬âwhen a writer inserts a thought into the midst of another one thats not yet complete?Ã¢â¬âNorene Malone, The CaseÃ¢â¬âPlease Hear Me OutÃ¢â¬âAgainst the Em Dash.Ã Slate, May 24, 2011 So, next time you look in your toolkit of punctuation marks and see theÃ en dashÃ orÃ em dashÃ just waiting to be put to work, ensure that you are using these marks for the right reasons and following the rules discussed. Ask yourself if yourÃ parenthetical remarkÃ will add nuance and insight to your writing or just confuse the reader. If its the latter, return the dashes to your punctuation tool bag and use a comma, colon, or semicolon instead, or revise the sentence so that you can omit the dreaded dash. Source Gowers, Ernest. Plain Words: A Guide to the Use of English. Rebecca Gowers, Paperback, Penguin UK, October 1, 2015.