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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Dash in and Use the Dash Correctly!

Many writers seem hesitant to dash in and use a dash or two in their writing.  Although it is not wise to overuse dashes, a sprinkle or two of dashes used sparingly may add a little spice to a writer's sentence structure.

Perhaps the reason for dash-less writing is the uncertainty about when to use a dash correctly.  Here are the three rules to help writers be more confident about dash use.

*Rule:  Use the dash to indicate an abrupt break in thought.

     EXAMPLE

     The real villain turns out to be -- but I don't want to spoil the
     ending for those of you who have not yet seen the movie.

    

*Rule:  Use a dash to set off parenthetical material.

     EXAMPLE 

     Very few people in this class -- three to be exact -- have
     completed their projects.

*Rule:  Use a dash to mean namely, in other words, that is, and similar expressions that precede explanations.

     EXAMPLE

     She joined the chorus for only one reason -- she loved to sing.

(Note:  The dash and colon are often interchangeable in this use.  A dash may be considered more emphatic than a colon.  If the dash is overused, it loses its emphasis.)


Now that you are dashing through your writing, don't forget to put the one-horse open sleigh in the barn, and laugh all the way through your dashing.

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