Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Dash

Usually, punctuation symbols are not meant to be overly flashy characters, but in the case of this eye-catching heroine—The Dash—flashy is good.
The Dash is more than just glitz and sparkle, though.  She plays a very pivotal and functional role in your sentences by standing in for her Super Symbols punctuation teammates: The Comma, The semicolon, The Colon, and The Parentheses.  The Dash only stands in for them whenever a sentence calls for the extra emphasis that only she can deliver.  

Technically, a dash, whenever used to emphasize a part of a sentence, is called an em dash because her symbol (—) is the length of a capital letter M (em).  This long length gives her symbol the super striking character it needs to set off a segment of a sentence with style—and power! 

So, the next time one of your sentences needs to be empowered with some extra flair—remember The Dash.

SUPER POWERS:
The Dash has the power to take the place of (more subtle) punctuation symbols, like: commas, semi-colons, colons, and parentheses.  She does this whenever a sentence calls for extra emphasis.  

USE THE EM DASH:
  • In place of commas
  • In place of semicolons
  • In place of colons
  • In place of parentheses

SUPER EXAMPLES:

#1)

Surrender your weapons—now!

The em dash: in place of a comma

#2)

His weakness—fire—is my strength.

The em dash: in place of commas

#3)

I will strike—you will fall.

The em dash: in place of semicolons

#4)

I only want what’s mine—money, power, and obedience.

The em dash: in place of colons

#5)

The aliens—no big surprise—had the technological advantage.

The em dash: in place of parentheses

WEAKNESS:
Although the Dash is a very appealing punctuation mark, she should be used sparingly so that she doesn’t become weak.  The more you use The Dash in a consecutive series of sentences, the weaker and less effective she becomes.

It can be very tempting to always use an em dash in your sentences, but remember, it’s the better part of valor if you don’t. 

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