Dashes: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know what dashes are? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on dashes, including the definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What is a dash?

According to Grammar Monster, dashes come in four kinds of dash: the em dash, minus sign, en dash, and hyphen which have a different width, but are all a horizontal line. Dashes can be used for many different things in English grammar. A sash can be used to show ranges in times and dates, to divide the equal parts of a two-part adjective, to combine words, to extend a sentence and show a pause like a colon, semicolon, or ellipsis (three dots), to mark a parenthesis/parentheses like an afterthought or clarification as a replacement for commas, parentheses and brackets, to to credit a direct quotation or dialogue. A two-em dash is used to indicate missing letters in a word. Dashes can be used to etch out parts of words that are inappropriate, and you can also use dashes to show ranges of numbers. A single dash and second dash are used for different functions, such as to underscore something, to show an interruption, to connect independent clauses, or connect a compound adjective or modifier.

On a numeric keyboard like a Mac or PC, or a typewriter, an em dash is made by using Ctl + Alt Key + minus (on the numeric pad). An en dash is formed by using Ctrl + minus (on the numeric pad). The hyphen key and minus signs are next to the 0 key. Just like other punctuation marks like question marks, quotation marks, exclamation point, closing parentheses, and more, the types of dash can be used in different ways.

What are examples of dashes?

A dash can be used in many different contexts in the English language. Trying to use a word or literary technique in a sentence is one of the best ways to memorize what it is, but you can also try making flashcards or quizzes that test your knowledge. Try using this term of the day in a sentence today! The following sentences are examples of dashes from Grammar Monster, Grammarly, 7 ESL  and EnglishClub that can help get you started incorporating this tool into your everyday use. Try to use the term dashs today or notice when someone else is using a dash.

  •  After a split second of hesitation, the second baseman leaped for the ball—or, rather, limped for it
  •  The ceremony will be held from June 6–June 8 at the Hilton Hotel.
  •  Our meeting will be from November 16–21, 2019.
  •  It depends on one thing — trust. 
  •  World War II ran 1939–1945. 
  •  She demanded just one thing from her students — effort. 
  •  “There used to be a real me, but I had it surgically removed.” — Peter Sellers (1925–1980) 
  •  The score the game at the moment is 1–2.
  •  The scheduled window for the cable installation is 1:00–3:00pm.
  •  The London–Paris flight is cancelled. 
  •  USSR existed 1922–1991.
  •  The substitute is going to New York in July – her contract was extended through June.
  •  He is afraid of two things—spiders and senior prom.
  •  Don’t forget to buy some food—eggs, bread, tuna and cheese.
  •  My brothers—Richard and John—are visiting Hanoi. (Could use commas.)
  •  I attached the photo to my email—at least I hope I did!
  •  Europe–USA is a long flight.
  •  Bill – aged 17 – won the cup.
  •  She made a butter-flour mixture to thicken the sauce.
  •  Take my advice — I don’t use it anyway.
  •  A former employee of the accused company, ———, offered a statement off the record.
  •  The 2015–2016 fiscal year was the most profitable year for the new business.
  •  The red team won 3–1 in this match.
  •  I will visit 13 January–24 January
  •  The project will be delivered January–June.
  •  There are three places I’ll never forget—Paris, Bangkok and Hanoi.
  •  It needed — trust. 
  •  In the 15th century—when of course nobody had electricity—water was often pumped by hand.
  •  Mark Jones — who has lived in our village for 20 years — is the world Scrabble champion and the national Bananagrams champion. 
  •  The Nobel Prize–winning author will be reading from her book at the library tonight.
  •  He lived in this town from 1998–2009.
  •  As she prodded through the sludge, something caught her eye. It was the unblemished unmistakable sparkle of — the diamond on her grandmother’s ring. 
  •  The teacher assigned pages 101–181 for tonight’s reading material.
  •  I will visit 0800–0900.
  •  “Love is a serious mental disease.” — Plato
  •  This lesson is on pages 20–22 in your textbook.
  •  Last week, Dr. Mark Jones — a resident of Bexley since he graduated from Bexley Secondary School in 1990 — was crowned, for the second year running, the world Scrabble champion. 
  •  “H—— are all the same. They cause trouble wherever they go.”
  •  If you want to buy this car, you will need at least $500–$600.
  •  Carved into the dresser drawer was a faded inscription: “Made for Kristina, by your de——ted sailor.”
  •  They are really f––––d up.
  •  The pro-choice–pro-life argument is always a heated one.
  •  It is by the fortune of God that we have three benefits — freedom of speech, freedom of thought, and the wisdom never to use either. 
  •  The 1st World War was supposed to be the world’s last war—the war to end war.
  •  It depends on trust — it always has. 
  •  She demanded effort from her students — that’s all she ever asked for. 
  •  “Name the greatest of all inventors. Accident.” — Mark Twain (1835–1910) 
  •  Familiarity breeds contempt — and children.  (Mark Twain)
  •  You could choose 2 numbers from 1–50.
  •  Skip — a guard dog for Bonds Ltd in Bury — hospitalized two burglars before returning to eat the steaks they had thrown him. 
  •  Take my advice — stay alive.
  •  I will look ––––– the children.
  •  It depends — as my mother used to say — on trust

Overall, dashes


  1. Em Dash (—) vs En Dash (–): When to Use Dashes with Examples | 7 ESL 
  2. Dashes: How to Use Them in Sentences | Grammarly 
  3. Dash — | Writing | EnglishClub 
  4. Using Dashes | Grammar Monster