#GrammarSeries – There’s a difference between the hyphen and the dash

the rules of comparison

Although they look alike, the hyphen and the dash do not mean the same thing.

The hyphen is used to join two or more words like, one-way street, well-known, chocolate-covered peanuts, together.

There are different rules guiding the use of the hyphen. We will highlight some of them in today’s post.

Rule 1

When compound modifiers come after a noun, they are not hyphenated.

For example

The peanuts were chocolate covered.

Rule 2

Hyphens are used with compound numbers.

For example

Sixty-three, Ninety-nine

Rule 3

Use a hyphen with prefixes.

For example

Ex- wife, mid-September, mid-nineteen eighties

A dash on the other hand is used for specific reasons and should never be over used especially in academic writing. It is significantly longer than the hyphen.

The rules guiding the use of the dash are quite different from the hyphen.

Rule 1

A dash should be used to replace a more formal colon particularly when you want to emphasize a point.

For example

Students were asked to bring their own supplies —paper, pen, pencils and calculator.

Rule 2

You can also use a pair of dashes to replace a parenthesis to place  more emphasis on the content.

The participants—two from group A and two from group B—tested negative.

Rule 3

A dash can also be useful at the beginning and end of a series separated by commas

This is an example

The students —Jim, Maria and Serah — were told they could leave

We hope you have learnt something new today!

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