How to Use the Em Dash

Happy Friday, Eagles!

The em dash is often confused with the hyphen or the en dash.  The em dash is used to surround a word, phrase, or clause.  Or it can be used to detach a word, phrase, or clause from the main body of the sentence.  In other words, an em-dash can be used like a comma, parentheses, or colon.

An em dash can make a more emphatic expression, than commas.  So if you really want to pour on the emotion, suspense, or create an afterthought, the em dash could possibly do the trick.

Double em dashes can represent missing parts of a word whether the parts are omitted intentionally, for effect, or omitted because the letters are unknown.

Your word processor automatically creates an em dash when you type two hyphens (two minus signs).  On your Mac use Shift+Option+Minus.

Here are a few examples:

Joslyn had worn her hair natural—although her father did not agree—since she was sixteen.

Jerrel—since he was abandoned three years ago—knew bundles of tricks to get by on the streets, but he now believes that there is a better way to live.

Cynthia’s career had begun to take a toll on her in the worse way—apathy.

Try out the em dash and tell me what you think.  Leave a comment to let me know what writing tips would be helpful for your writing project.

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