Em Dashes, and En Dashes and Hyphens – Oh My!

Weather Report: Well in to the 90s. Humidity, the same. Such a change from last Wednesday when the temperature was 48 degrees. I can’t control the weather, so I live with crazy Central PA changes. We don’t have lions, and tigers, and bears this week, but we do have en dashes, em dashes, and hyphens. They can be just dangerous and frightening. Let’s make the trip together.


  • Indicates breaks within words that wrap at the end of a line
  • Connects compounded words like “mass-produced”
  • Connects grouped numbers, like a phone number 555-860-5086
  • The hyphen does not indicate a range of numbers.

En dash

  • Joins numbers in a range, such as “1993–99” or “1200–1400 B.C.” or “pages 32–37” or open-ended ranges, like “1934–”
  • Joins words that describe a range, like “July–October 2010”

Em dash

  • Supposedly works better than commas to set apart a unique idea from the main clause of a sentence. I’m not sure.
  • Shows when dialogue has been interrupted:

The em dash? I never use it, I’m improper. I only use the en dash. I always skip a space between the last word and the en dash and skip a space before the next word – if you know what I mean. No, that’s not the way it is supposed to be done, but then again, who cares? See you next week!



9 thoughts on “Em Dashes, and En Dashes and Hyphens – Oh My!

  1. This was great. I have always struggled with the different types of dashes. Thanks for a good presentation.
    Saturday and Sunday we broke temperature records for Western Washington. Depending on where you lived, some had temps up to 110 or a bit higher, others between 102 and 107. This came on the heels of a week and a half of hard rains. The past two days have been really nice and cool.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great information! Oops, I’m seeing lots of grammatical errors in my past posts from a couple years ago. I am in the process of updating all of them for a friendlier user experience. But, it takes forever. I can’t just leave them hanging there with mistakes, though. Ugh. 🥺

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of the advantages of being 72 is the ability to just say “oh well” if I make a grammar mistake. lol I used to know all this stuff, inside and out, thanks to nuns who were mean as snakes, but I’ve forgotten many of the rules now, so “oh well.” Thanks for the refresher!

    Liked by 2 people

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