Em Dash | When To Use Em Dash Correctly?

Em Dash: Before knowing the exact topic, em dash, which is a punctuation mark, let’s have some little information about a punctuation mark? So, the punctuation mark is used to create support meaning within a sentence or break it up. And there are a total of 14 punctuation marks that are used in the English language, and they are as follows: period, question mark, exclamation point, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, a hyphen, brackets, braces, parentheses, apostrophe, quotation mark, and ellipsis.

As this punctuation plays a major role in English and grammar, studying every punctuation mark in detail is our duty. And having proper knowledge of every punctuation mark is necessary too. And one of the punctuation marks, called em dash, will be discussed here in detail.

In the English language, three types of dashes are primarily used, and they are as follows: Hyphen, Em dash and En dash. Em dash width is the same as that of the Upper Case alphabet “M”. Em dash is longer than En dash and Hyphen.

The em dash is a punctuation mark that can be used in many different ways. Em dash can also be called rule and mutton dash. Em dash is denoted as (–). Em dash is more prolonged than En dash. Do not use Em dash in place of En dash and hyphens as they are shorter than Em dash, and also, three of them have different functions.

Em Dash in English

How Can You Type Em Dash On The Keyboard?

Hold down the Alt key while typing 0151 on the keypad, and thus you can see em dash on your screen. This method is used for PCs.

Press ALT + SHIFT + the hyphen key, located to the right of the zero, and thus you can see em dash on your screen. This method is used for Mac computers.

How To Use Em Dash?

The primary reason for using em dash is for creating strong breaks in sentences. And these breaks are used for showing the change of thoughts and for showing an interruption. In the place of commas, parenthesis, colons and Semicolons, we can also use em dash.

Em dash is mostly used in e-mail writing, report writing, and letter writing. In short, it is used for informal writing. We can’t overuse the em sash in articles, business letters, and research papers as these are formal writings. In formal writing, we can use em dash in parentheses, commas, semicolons, and colons. Before and after the em dash, we should not use spaces.

Let’s discuss using em dashes in place of colon, parentheses, commas.

Em Dashes In Place Of Commas

To increase readability, one can use a pair of em dashes in place of commas. And commas are always less emphatic than dashes. To Set Off Appositives that Contain Commas, one can use their dashes. The extra information which is added into a sentence for clarification is called an appositive. Mainly commas are used to offset the Appositive. But if an Appositive contains one or more commas, then it is confusing for the readers as you are adding more than one commas. You should offset commas with em dashes while using an appositive. Example:

Four of us—Anas, Zaiba, Yashodhara, and Sanjay—went to dinner last week.

Em dashes in place of parentheses:

A pair of dashes can replace a pair of parentheses. Parentheses are more formal than dashes. Use em dash when you want attention for parenthetical content. It would help if you omitted the surrounding punctuation marks when dashes are used in place of parentheses. To Set Off, Parenthetical Information one can use their dashes. If you want to focus on the information between the em dashes, you should use em dashes instead of parentheses. And if you are going to use em dashes like this, then be sure that you use two em-dashes, and use one em dash before the parenthetical information and one after the em dash. Stay consistent while putting spaces before and after an em dash.

Em dash in place of a colon:

When you want to indicate the conclusion of your sentence, then one can use em dash in place of the colon. The colon is more formal than a dash.

When Not to Use an Em Dash?

If you are starting a list, you should not use Em dash in place of colons or semicolons. One should remember that they don’t use Em dash most while writing as many other punctuation marks are more appropriate to use in writing. It’s used most for grabbing the attention of a reader.

Common Em Dash Mistakes and How to Avoid

Many writers get confused about using em dash in place of Hyphen, en dash or colons, so you don’t make these mistakes while using punctuation marks. For that, we will be discussing the basic difference between these punctuation marks.

Em dash vs En Dash

People get very confused while using em dash and en dash. As they are somewhat similar in size, and they both sound the same. So, more than any other punctuation marks, this combination confuses people the most. So the main point one needs to keep in mind is that en dash is used to represent the span. En dash can be used between the two words or numbers. It is also used to show marks and scores. For compound phrases, also en dash is used. And we are using the em dash for replacing the punctuation marks. And that’s the basic difference. now onwards, you’ll not be confused while using em dash and en dash

Em dash vs Hyphen

People get confused while using em dash and Hyphen. For compounding words, mostly hyphens are used. A hyphen is also used to join two words together. If you want to add a prefix to the word, then also we can use Hyphen. And the main use of em dash is to replace a punctuation mark and are never used in joining the words.

Em dash vs Colon

This is the most often mistake made by the writers. As it is said that one can use em dash in place of a colon, the major mistake they make is they think that it is applicable in every situation, and this is the misconception. The main work of a colon is to join one dependent clause and another independent clause together. Here we can use em dash. But at the start of the list at a colon, we can’t use em dash. Once again, keep in mind that you cannot replace em dash with colon every time.

FAQ’s on Em Dash

Question 1.
What are the rules for em dashes?

To create a break in a sentence, you can use em dash instead of commas or parentheses.

To create emphasis, you can use an em dash like a colon or semicolon.

If you want to show a sudden change of thoughts in writing, you can also use em dashes.

Question 2.
Should em dashes have spaces?

Mainly em dash is used without space. It has no space on the right and left sides. But still, in many newspapers, em dash uses space in between them.

Question 3.
What is the difference between an en dash and an em dash?

As we know, the width of en dash and em dash is equal to N and M upper case letters, respectively. To mark ranges, an en dash is used and is represented as (-). To break a sentence, or if you want to add extra information in the sentences, then em dash is used and is represented as (–).

Question 4.
Should You Capitalise the First Letter After an Em Dash?

You cannot capitalise the first letter after an en dash, whether you are using this em dash to replace other punctuation marks or as a part of a missing word. You can only Capitalise the First Letter After an Em Dash if the following word is a proper noun.

Question 5.
What are em dashes used for?

In place of comma, parentheses or colon, one can use em dashes to give extra information, just like commas and parentheses. An em dash introduces a clause just like colons. And like this, em dashes are used in place of commas, parentheses or colons.

Question 6.
Is em dash formal or informal?

Em dash is mostly used in formal writing.

Question 7.
How do you use em dash in a sentence?

When one wants to emphasise the conclusion of your sentence, then you can use em dash in place of the colon. As we all know, the colon is more formal than a dash.

Final Words on Em Dash

This is all regarding em dash. We added an extra-base of an em dash, too. So, that’s easy to understand for our audience. And at last, This is all the information that can be provided in WHEN TO USE EM DASH CORRECTLY. Hope you guys find it informative and exciting. And after reading this, you’ll have a clear idea about an em dash.

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