Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Writing 101: How to Use Dashes

The dash is one of the most under-valued pieces of punctuation, and one of the most improperly-used. Learn to master the art of the dash, and you can avoid all your complicated punctuation problems. Ignore this lesson, and you'll find yourself mired in a morass of commas from which there is no escape.

Dashing off Good Punctuation

A dash functions as a super comma, and that's why all writers should love it. When you already have a lot of punctuation to deal with in a sentence, the dash can be employed to break up the sentence to make it readable (and grammatically correct) again. Learn how to use the dash, and it will be your friend.

You can use the dash in many types of writing -- creative, poetic, non-fiction -- to keep your sentences looking neat. In the example I just gave you, the dashes are used to isolate a particular, punctuation-ridden clause. The use of the dash sets this clause apart and keeps your sentence neat.

The dash is also great for showing interruption in dialogue or thoughts.

"I told you to stop throwing the -- ow!" 

"I was thinking that we should -- oh, nevermind!" 

 The dash can also be used to emphasize a particular point.

This is the only way --the only way-- I can write.

Learn how to use the dash, and you can use it do all sorts of things in your writing.

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