Do you know the difference between a hyphen, an en dash, & an em dash?

Posted by


You see them everywhere even though you may not realize it.  But did you know that there are three types of dashes?  Really, there are three.

  • hyphen (-)
  • en dash (–)
  • em dash (—)

Now you may be saying, what—I’ve never heard of that!

Well, neither had I before I found out I had been using dashes incorrectly all these years.  So, I did a little research and here is what I found.

A hyphen is used between consecutive adjectives before a noun.  An example would be

  • award-winning author
  • state-of-the-art system
  • four-bedroom apartments

An en dash is used with time and numbers.  An example would be

  • 2010–2012
  • 3:00pm–4:00pm

The en dash can also be used between words of connection, conflict or direction.  An example would be

  • democrat–republican candidate
  • north–south transit
  • New York–Orlando flight

The em dash is used to indicate a pause—placing emphasis on words.  It can also replace other punctuation.  For example

  • He follows behind her—his laughter mixing with hers.
  • His green cloak hung from his shoulders—limp and wet from the rain.
  • He looked at me with hope—like I could actually make the shot from this far away—his eyes teary with joy.

For more facts about grammar visit my website.  You can also sign up to receive a free Writing Planner & Tracking Tool that will help you along on your journey as a writer.

As always, happy writing my friends!

Writing, Marketing, and Self Publishing

Leave a Reply