August 29, 2014

Punctuation: Dash

Use a dash to notify the reader of a surprising element at the end of a sentence.

  • The trapper gave his grandson a coat made of fur—skunk fur.

Use a dash to announce a list, restatement or an amplification.

  • The waiter’s first recommendation—a sea bass baked in a hazelnut crust—was sold out.

Her first car—a pink and white pinto with leopard-skin seat covers—should be in a museum.

  • He had worked hard—did his coach realize how hard?—to improve his free throw shooting.

Don’t use a dash for a simple appositive that doesn’t require a dramatic shift.

  • Her first car, a Dodge Dart, is still running.

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