How to use dashes in essays

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Writers love em dashes as much as hunters love Swiss army knives. Like the utilitarian knife, em dashes are versatile tools. Once you find out about these handy dashes, you may fall in love with them too. Grammarly can save you from misspellings, grammatical and punctuation mistakes, and other writing issues on all your favorite websites. Em dashes differ from other hyphens and dashes not only in usage, which we will discuss shortly, but also in appearance. Its alphabetical cousin, the en dash, is about the same width as the letter N.
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When to Use—and Not Use—an Em-Dash | Grammar Girl

The em dash can be used in place of a colon when you want to emphasize the conclusion of your sentence. Dashes are used to separate groups of words, not to separate parts of words like a hyphen does. The dash — is a mark of punctuation used to set off a word or phrase after an independent clause or a parenthetical remark words, phrases, or clauses that interrupt a sentence. A hyphen joins two or more words together while a dash separates words into parenthetical statements. The two are sometimes confused because they look so similar, but their usage is different. Hyphens are not separated by spaces, while a dash has a space on either side. Pictured is an example of the hyphen and underscore key on top of the keyboard.
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How to Use Hyphens and Dashes in an Essay

Dashes are used to separate groups of words, not to separate parts of words like a hyphen does. There are three forms of dashes: em, en, and the double hyphen. The most common types of dashes are the en dash — and the em dash —. A good way to remember the difference between these two dashes is to visualize the en dash as the length of the letter N and the em dash as the length of the letter M.
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This handout explains the most common uses of three kinds of punctuation: semicolons ; , colons : , and dashes —. After reading the handout, you will be better able to decide when to use these forms of punctuation in your own writing. The semicolon looks like a comma with a period above it, and this can be a good way to remember what it does. A semicolon creates more separation between thoughts than a comma does but less than a period does.

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