Super Grammar: The Dash

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.

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.  

  • In place of commas
  • In place of semicolons
  • In place of colons
  • In place of parentheses



Surrender your weapons—now!

The em dash: in place of a comma


His weakness—fire—is my strength.

The em dash: in place of commas


I will strike—you will fall.

The em dash: in place of semicolons


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

The em dash: in place of colons


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

The em dash: in place of parentheses

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. 


  1. I am too weak in using such symbols in sentences. Thank you for explaining it so easily for me. This would be more easy to understand and will help you a lot.

  2. Grammar is the basics of our writing. It is the fundamental step of learning English. Here you've discussed punctuation symbols with us and we should know about it.We have Just check it once and see how it works.

  3. Well thank you for this blog. These are the small symbols which we usually ignore in writing but you have shown us it's great examples. So from here i can learn many useful tips.