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Dashes & Hyphens

  • Use a dash to indicate a sudden break in continuity or to set off an explanatory, a defining, or an emphatic phrase:
    The sky grew dark—where were the kids?
    Dairy foods—milk, cheese, yogurt—are a good source of calcium.
  • Use a hyphen to join the elements of a compound word or to join the elements of a compound modifier before a noun:
 well-wisherice-skating rink
 fifty-threecollege-age students
  • Use a hyphen to divide a word at the end of a line:
    Rasputin is one of history's most enig-
    matic and intriguing figures.

See also: The Dash and the Hyphen and the Ellipsis


Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

SemicolonPunctuationBrackets & Parentheses

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