When you’re reading something – a book, an article, a newspaper – you’ll probably come across hyphens and dashes. In the previous sentence, the punctuation separating the word “something” from the list of different types of reading material was a dash. This article will explain the difference between a hyphen and a dash.
A hyphen is a shorter mark, looking like this: – and it’s usually used to link two words together. In print, it’s used to link the beginnings of words on one line with the ends of words on another. A few examples of hyphens can be seen in the following sentences:
Hyphens never have spaces surrounding them.
A dash is a longer mark that’s used as punctuation in sentences rather than used to link words together. A good example of a dash – and it’s in the sentence I’m writing right now – is the previous use of the dash in this sentence to illustrate the usage of the dash. Dashes can also be used to make remarks at the end of a sentence – like this.
|Used in punctuation as sentences – usually as parenthetical comments.||Used to links individual words together, such as user-friendly.|
Visually, a dash is longer than a hyphen. Where a dash – that looks like this – is about the space of two hyphens, a hyphen looks like this: –
As for usage, a dash is used to introduce a parenthetical comment in a sentence. It can either do so through introducing and finishing a parenthetical comment in the middle of a sentence – like this – or it can do so by ending a sentence with a parenthetical comment – like this.
The video below discusses the differences between a hyphen and a dash, and elaborates on a more specific difference, the difference between an “en” dash and an “em” dash.