Good Loving Woman

Good Loving Woman

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So when should you use the dash?

February 28, 2013 ,

em dash

A dash is a punctuation mark, similar to a hyphen or minus sign but differing primarily in length and serving different functions. The most common versions of the dash are the en dash () and the em dash (), named for the length of a typeface’s lower-case n and upper-case M respectively.

The em dash, m dash, m-rule, or “mutton” () often demarcates a break of thought or some similar interpolation stronger than the interpolation demarcated by parentheses, such as the following from Nicholson Baker‘s The Mezzanine:

At that age I once stabbed my best friend, Fred, with a pair of pinking shears in the base of the neck, enraged because he had been given the comprehensive sixty-four-crayon Crayola box—including the gold and silver crayons—and would not let me look closely at the box to see how Crayola had stabilized the built-in crayon sharpener under the tiers of crayons.

The Pause Dash more or less says to the reader, “Right here, I want you to take a breath. What you will read next relates to what you have just read in an interesting way, and I would like to emphasize it.” When using dashes this way, you are allowed only one per sentenceWriters who deploy this mark comfortably and adeptly (rather than haphazardly) are conscious of the rhythm and dynamics of a sentence. A well-placed dash adds energy and voice.” (from NY Times Opinionator commentary Mad Dash by Ben Yagoda)

get it write right with these handy tools from Ben Yagoda:  How to Not Write Bad

image  peter arkle

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