Thursday, 22 March 2012
Using the Hyphen and the Dash
Time to jump-start my day-to-day use of the well-known hyphen!
You can also use the hyphen to split a word that comes at the end of the line, but is so long that it would look off if you push it down to the next line. I also like using the hyphen for prefixes or pre-fixes. Look at me hyphenate some prefixes below:
She managed to recover her cushion.
She managed to re-cover her cushion.
Well, I cheated, I took the above from this website guide to using the hyphen, but I thought it illustrated the power the hyphen really well. Look at the two sentances. By hyphenating the prefix, the whole meaning of the sentence has changed. Pretty good huh?
Now I have to confess I've been guilty of using the double hyphen in the past instead of the dash. Apparently, this is a cardinal error. You should use an actual dash and not a double hyphen and especially not a hyphen."What?" I hear you ask. "There's a difference?". Yes, there actually is. The dash is not a hyphen, it's a longer thing, and that's what you should use when the need to add a pause to a sentence.
To makes things more complicated, there is actually two types of dash, the en-dash and the em-dash. The en-dash is the shorter one – it looks like this, with no spaces on either side. The em-dash looks like this—much longer and without any spaces. You can pick one as you fancy. I quite like the em-dash I think. Remindes me of my old double hyphen. Anyway, finding the dash on a the keyboard is a toughy, but I've linked a guide there for you. That's the biggest single reason why people use the hyphen instead of the dash.
I hope you find my post useful—I know I learnt from researching it (see the dash I just used instead of the double hyphen!).