Dashes in English

A dash is used to emphasise what follows.

Use dashes sparingly: not more than a pair per sentences in informal writing and (if possible) not more than a pair per paragraph in formal writing.

Some computer programs cannot display dashes (–). In this case, type two hyphens (--).

There is no blank before or after a dash in English.

Dashes for Change of Topic or Structure

Use a dash for a change of topic within a sentence.

Example: This is very important–are you listening to me?

Use a dash if the information that follows is surprising and unexpected.

Example: We went shopping in London–and met Robbie Williams.

Dashes in Dialogues

Use a dash to show hesitation.

Example: I–I–I don't know.

Dashes in Summaries and Additional Information

Use a dash to indicate a summarising clause.

Example: Jane, Daniel, Susan and I–we all were taken aback.

Use a dash to indicate an emphasised addition.

Beispiel: He prayed to his God–to Allah.

Use a dash to enclose emphasised additional information which interrupts the normal progression of the sentence.

Example: He wanted us–Caron, Susan and me–to meet his family.

Depending on the importance attached to it, additional information can be enclosed in brackets, commas or dashes.

Brackets - not important
Connor (Amy's boyfriend) bought the tickets.

Commas - neutral
Connor, Amy's boyfriend, bought the tickets.

Dashes - emphasised
Connor–Amy's boyfriend–bought the tickets.

see also: → Additional Information in Brackets

see also: → Additional Information in Commas