Write Right


Writing Tip of the Week

Use the Em Dash ("long dash") to strengthen your writing.

When it's used appropriately, this quirky punctuation adds emphasis to your writing—a touch of dash!

Use a dash to connect two parts of a sentence

Sometimes when linking sentences, use a dash rather than a conjunction to make the sentence more interesting.

Good:

The homeless man had one loonie in his pocket, but he gave it away.

Better:

The homeless man had one loonie in his pocket—he gave it away.

Use a dash to show parenthetical (by-the-way) expression

I moved to a small town—it was in the middle of nowhere—after university.

Use a dash to indicate a long appositive (a description of the subject) or an appositive with numerous commas.

Good:

Sparkly clothing hung on the rack, the kind found only at Christmas.

Better:

|Sparkly clothing hung on the rack—the kind found only at Christmas.

Not-so-good:

The company presidents, Charles, Henry, and Ross, were at the table in the boardroom.

Better:

The company presidents—Charles, Henry, and Ross—were at the table in the boardroom.

Use a dash to emphasize or clarify.

He climbed up on the huge rock and sat downon a snake.

Use a dash to show a sudden break in the sentence or hesitation in dialogue

As he pulled out of the driveway, she told him,"I shut off the iron—I think I did—well, I probably did."

Use a dash to indicate that someone's speech is being interrupted by another person.

Yes, hello—well, I—can't come then—but, I—tomorrow would be better for me.

With the help of a summarizing pronoun such as "all" or "these," use a dash before the final part of a sentence to clarify its relationship to the rest of the sentence.

The large lot, spacious rooms, updated appliances, new roof and windows—all these features assured the buyers that the house was worth the high price.

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