Not Separated at Birth: The Dash and the Hyphen (and Let's Add the Ellipsis for Fun)
The dash and the hyphen are like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito: confused so often they are taken for each other. But like these two fine actors, the dash and the hyphen are not the same, no sireee.
Therefore, the dash is twice as long as the hyphen. That's not all; the dash and hyphen have totally different uses. Not to mention the 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.
You could make it through life fine and dandy without a dash, but you'd be the poorer for it. Like argyle socks, the dash shows flair and style. It creates rhythm and emphasis in your writing.
The Ellipsis: Dot, Dot, Dot
The ellipsis, in contrast, indicates a break in continuity.
Danger, Will Robinson
Don't use an ellipsis to show that words have been omitted from the beginning of a sentence. Just omit the words and keep right on going.
Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Style © 2003 by Laurie E. Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.