hyphen & dash

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Learn how to use these marks correctly.

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  • 1. Live Free / Speak Free

2. Hyphens and DashesDefinition Whats the difference between a hyphen and a dash? How do you know when to use one or the other of these punctuation marks?A hyphen is a short, single-character line which connects word parts.The hyphen serves two primary functions:1. to divide words that split at the end of a line2. to join word parts into a single word. 3. A dash is a longer linedouble the length of a hyphenwhichindicates a break or an interruption in the thought. Dashes are used to set off part of a sentence. Unlike parentheses, which tend to minimize, dashes tend to emphasize the set-off text.Using these punctuation marks correctly will help you make yourmeaning clear to your readers. Well look at each of these marksindividually to see how they are used. 4. Hyphen Exercise Dash 5. HyphensSolution Using Hyphens to Divide WordsUse a hyphen to divide words that wont fit on the end of a line.While you should be careful not to divide words too often, an occasionaldivision is acceptable. Divide a word when moving the entire word to thenext line would leave a gap at the end of the line. When dividing words, besure to follow these guidelines: Say the word aloud and choose the best place to divide the word. Generally, dividing between separatelypronounced consonants or double letters is the best idea. If the word contains a prefix or suffix, the best place to divide is usually after the prefix or before the suffix. 6. Look at the following example:The ancient Greeks worshipped Zeus as the supreme god. In mythology, Zeus was both the brother and husband of Hera and the fatherof Hercules. The Roman counterpart to Zeus is Jupiter. Always consult a dictionary to find the best place to divide a word. 7. Using Hyphens to Form Compound WordsUse a hyphen to form compound words. Sometimes, writers combine words to form a single adjective modifier placed before a noun or to form a compound noun as in the following examples:the alreadyopened package a seriousminded student an outofwork mechanica time of selfreflection 8. Here are a few simple guidelines to help you hyphenate compound wordscorrectly:Use a hyphen when adding a prefix to a proper noun (one whichbegins with a capital letter) or a date:antiAmerican protesterspre1990s political idealsUse a hyphen with the prefixes self, all, quasi, and ex (when exmeans "formerly"). selfserving bias allknowing deityquasilegal organizationexhusband 9. Use a hyphen when necessary to avoid misreading, especially whenthe same letter both ends a prefix and begins the root word:coownership antiincendiary Some words are always hyphenated. Id like you to meet my brother-in-law. His coffee is a real eye-opener 10. Use a hyphen to express writtenout numbers.Hyphenate twoword numbers between twentyone and ninetynine. Dont use a hyphen before or after a category number likehundred, thousand, or million:fortyninethree hundred fortysevenRemember that unless the number occurs at the beginning of asentence, numbers longer than two syllables should usually beexpressed in digits. (Numbers at the beginning of a sentence mustalways be written out.)Once again, its important to consult a dictionary to find out which wordsare generally hyphenated and which words are written as single words. 11. Dashes SolutionUsing DashesA dash signals an interruption or a break in thought.Sometimes writers interrupt themselves, as in the following example: For our vacationwhich was much too shortwe went to Florida and basked in the sun. 12. Dashes are used to set off text that you want to stress oremphasize. Other methods, like surrounding a phrase or clausewith commas or parentheses, deemhasize the text. Dashes arelike sentence traffic cops: they tell the reader to pause thecurrent thought while another important thought comesthrough, and then to pick the first thought up again. Whetheryou should use commas, parentheses, or dashes depends onhow important the text is and how closely it relates to the restof the sentence. Auditory Hint. As an auditory learner, your best strategy for deciding whether to use commas, parenthesis, or dashes is to write out loud. If you pause before and after specific words, you need to set those words off. Listen to your own tone of voice when you speak the set-off text. If your tone brightens or your volume increases to emphasize the text, use dashes! 13. Look at the following examples: Matt told his best friend, SharonsCommas are used to set off non sister, that he wants to go out with essential text that is closely related you. to the rest of the sentence.Parentheses are used as a reminder This doctrine (the incarnation) is or to add information that is central to the Christian faith.interesting but not critical to themeaning of the sentence. My memories of my grandmotherDashes are used to interrupt the and they are some of my strongestcurrent thought and to emphasize childhood memoriesinspire me tothe interrupting text. imitate her gentle strength. 14. A dash follows a list or series that serves as the introduction to asentence.Look at the following examples:Warts, buck teeth, and crossed eyeshe has them all!New York, Washington D.C., and rural Pennsylvaniathese were theareas most immediately affected by terrorism. 15. Using dashes with other punctuation marksHere are a few simple rules that will help you use dashes correctly: No spaces are used on either side of a dash.Typewriters used to have a special key for a dash and referred tothis punctuation mark as an "emdash." By contrast, most wordprocessors make a dash by converting a double hyphen into asingle line. Word processors convert the double hyphen to a dashonly when no spaces are used on either side of the dash, so yourcomputer will help you remember this rule. 16. No commas are used with dashes.Since the dash serves the same function as a commamarking offspecific text from the rest of the sentenceno additional commas areused with dashes. You may, however, use commas within text setbetween dashes, and you may use other punctuation marks (such as aquestion mark or an exclamation point) if one is appropriate. Look atthe following example: Momplease, can you listen?may I borrow some money to gas my car?Normally, a comma would follow the word "Mom" to separate the directaddress from the rest of the sentence. Since the dash serves this function, nocomma is used. Since the setoff text is a question, the question mark at theend of the text is appropriate. The same rule would apply to an exclamationconcluding in an exclamation point. Note, however, that the first letter of thequestion or exclamation is not capitalized, even though it could be a completesentence in another context. 17. Avoid overusing dashes.Dashes should be used sparingly and only when your purpose is to bothset off and emphasize text within the sentence. Never use more thantwo dashes in a single sentence. 18. Quiz Test Your SkillsNow its time to put your skills to the test. This part of thetutorial will present you with six questions, each requiringyour response. The questions range from easy to increasinglydifficult. You will receive immediate feedback to each of yourresponses.Begin the Self Test 19. Question #1:Read the sentence below and decide whether the hyphenatedword has been divided correctly. Consult a dictionary if you areunsure.Every time we visit my grandparents, we hear my grandfather tell his story about wrestling with alligators. Correct Incorrect Im not sure. 20. The original sentence was:Every time we visit my grandparents, we hear my grandfather tell his story about wrestling with alligators.You answered that the word "grandfather" is divided correctly.Your answer is incorrect. The word "grandfather" contains threesyllables: grandfather.Since words must be divided between syllables, no division mayoccur between the "t" and the "h." You may have been confused bythe rule that says you should try to divide syllables betweenpronounced double consonants. However, in the word"grandfather," the "th" is pronouned as a single sound, so thedouble consonant rule does not apply. Please go back and try again. 21. The original sentence was:Every time we visit my grandparents, we hear my grandfather tell his story about wrestling with alligators.Youre right: the word grandfather is incorrectly divided. Sincewords must be divided between syllables, no division may occurbetween the "t" and the "h." Instead, this threesyllable word maybe divided between syllables: grandfather. Go to question 2 22. The original sentence was:Every time we visit my grandparents, we hear my grandfather tell his story about wrestling with alligators.This sentence might be a bit confusing because two rules about dividingwords are involved: If possible, words should be divided betweenpronounced double consonantsWords must be divided between syllables.Both of these rules, however, give you a hint on how to divide the word"grandfather." Since the "th" is pronounced as a single syllable, you cantsplit the "t" and the "h." Instead, you must divide between syllables:grandfather.Please go back and try again. 23. Question #2:Read the sentence below and decide whether hyphens havebeen used correctly. Consult a dictionary if you are unsure.I invited Maria to lunch, but she had already arranged tomeet her mother inlaw.CorrectIncorrectIm not sure. 24. The original sentence was:I invited Maria to lunch, but she had already arranged to meet hermother inlaw.You answered that the sentence uses hyphens correctly.Your answer is incorrect. Some expressions are always written withhyphens. Among these are the following:motherinlawfatherinlawsisterinlawbrotherinlawNotice that there are two hyphens in each expression, as opposed tothe single hyphen used in the sentence above. The only way to besure about hyphenated expressions is to consult your dictionary.Please go back and try again. 25. The origin

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