Learn English Punctuation – How to use Dash in English?

Many people still don't know how to use the dash in English language.

People generally believe comma, colon, semicolon as punctuation marks in English language, but in English we have different types of punctuation marks. One of them is the dash.

According to Grammarly “Dash is longer than a hyphen and is commonly used to indicate a range or a pause. The most common types of dashes are the en dash (–) and the em dash (—).” This article only covers the issue of use of dashes. It doesn’t cover about these two types of dashes. If you need more information about it, please visit here.

Photo: Ivan Shilov/ Unsplash
  1. Dashes can be used in the place of commas or as the alternative of commas.
  2. Dashes can be used in the place of brackets or as the alternative of brackets.
  3. Dashes can be used in the place of colon or as the alternative of colon.
  4. In a general sense, dashes are considered informal.
  5. British and American English use different spacing rules while using dashes.

Example 1 (Replacing Commas)

  • My friend Ram, who lives in Kathmandu, is going to Butwal.
  • My friend Ram – who lives in Kathmandu – is going to Butwal.
  • Laxman’s aunt, who is a teacher in a private school, resigned yesterday.
  • Laxman’s aunt – who is a teacher in a private school – resigned yesterday.

Example 2 (Replacing Brackets)

  • My new teacher (Anand Mishra) is an expert in poetry.
  • My new teacher – Anand Mishra – is an expert in poetry.
  • You think Laxman is an arrogant man (he’s not).
  • You think Laxman is an arrogant man – he’s not.

Example 3 (Replacing Colon)

  • Momo’s ingredients mainly has 3 spices: ginger, garlic and pepper.
  • Momo’s ingredients mainly has 3 spices – ginger, garlic and pepper.
  • Two things are most important in life: family and health.
  • Two things are most important in life – family and health.

Example 4 (British and American rules)

In British English, we have to put a space around dash, while using it.

In American English, we don’t have to put spaces while using dash.

  • That’s what I said to Laxman – don’t install the phone application.
  • That’s what I said to Laxman—don’t install the phone application.

(This article was created taking ideas from Business English Success and instructor Derek Smith)

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