The dash ( – )

A dash is a little horizontal line that floats in the middle of a line of text (not at the bottom: that’s an underscore). It’s longer than a hyphen and is commonly used to indicate a range or a pause. 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.

A spaced dash (i.e. with a single space before and after it) is used:
- at the beginning and end of a comment that interrupts the flow of a sentence.
Now children – Kenneth, stop that immediately! – open your books on page 20.

- to separate off extra information.
Boots and shoes – all shapes, sizes and colours – tumbled out.

An unspaced dash (i.e. with no space before or after it) is used:
- to indicate a range.
pages 26–42

- between two adjectives or noun modifiers that indicate that two countries or groups are involved in something or that an individual has two roles or aspects.
Swedish–Norwegian relations improved, the United States–Canada free trade pact
a mathematician–philosopher
- to indicate that something such as a plane or a train goes between two places.
the Anguilla–St Kitts flight
the New York–Montreal train

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