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


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

Published by Cynthia Brandel

Published author and founder of, Cynthia has captivated the world with her works of fiction including The Sanctorian Series and her latest work, The Revenant City Series. Lover of young adult reads and fantasy reads, Cynthia has transformed her passions into a full-time career.

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