Dash

Dashes have two main functions. One, they can be used in place of commas in order to set off a certain part of a sentence. Don’t hesitate to also check our 236 free and powerful practice tests

The next lesson: Ellipses, both lessons are included in Practice Tests.

The following transcript is provided for your convenience.

Or, two, they can be used to show a pause in a quotation.

So, let’s take a look at the first use:

Two states on the West Coast – Washington and Oregon – have amazing weather.”

So, right here, “Washington and Oregon” could be omitted from the sentence. So, try reading this sentence without “Washington and Oregon” in the sentence.

Two states on the West have amazing weather.”

That sentence still makes perfect sense, so “Washington and Oregon” is just extra information.

So, what’s one way you can set off additional information? Through the use of commas. So, we could just put a comma right after “Coast“, and a comma right here after “Oregon“. But, in this case, the writer chose to use two dashes. So, here, the sentence reads:

Two states on the West Coast – Washington and Oregon – have amazing weather.”

So, here, you pause where the dashes are. Just like you would pause when you see a comma, pause where the dashes are. So, it’s:

Two states on the West Coast – Washington and Oregon – have amazing weather.”

So, that’s one way to use dashes. Just to set a certain part off of the sentence from the rest of the sentence.

Now, also, dashes can be used to show a pause in a quotation. Like, right here.

Go to the left – turn right!”

So, right here, the speaker is telling the driver to go to the left, and then they pause for a second and realize that they actually need to go to the right, so they’re saying “turn right“, so the dash right here is showing the speaker thought for a minute, because otherwise, this sentence wouldn’t make sense without the dash, because the sentence would just read:

Go to the left turn right!”

So, the dash is needed here to show the reader that the speaker paused, thought about it, and then changed their mind.

A dash can also be used at the end of a sentence if a speaker suddenly stops what they’re saying. So, it can be like:

I was headed this way, then-”

There’s a dash, and then it could be “Jim froze in fear when he saw the bear.” So, dashes can also be used at the end of a quotation.

So, just remember the two main ways that dashes can be used. Dashes aren’t used very often, so use them sparingly, and only when needed.

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The next lesson: Ellipses, both lessons are included in Practice Tests.

dash




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