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How to Use the Dash, Hyphen, and Ellipsis

How to Use the Dash, Hyphen, and Ellipsis

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Using the correct punctuation is more than following the grammar rules—correct punctuation enables your audience to understand your ideas more clearly. Here’s how to correctly use the dash, hyphen, and ellipsis.

The Dash: Long and Lean

Basically, the dash (—) is used to show emphasis. Here’s how:

The Hyphen: Short and Sweet

The hyphen (-), in contrast, is used to show a break in words.

The Ellipsis

The ellipsis (…), in contrast, indicates a break in continuity.

Hyphens, dashes, and ellipses may seem tricky, but they don’t have to be. Just keep these rules in mind, and you’ll also know where they go! For more grammar information, check out our Quick Guides on How to Use an Apostrophe, How to Use the Comma, and The Rules of Capitalization. Happy writing!

From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Grammar and Style, Second Edition, by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D.