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L asked in Education & ReferenceWords & Wordplay · 1 decade ago

What is the difference between an em-dash and an en-dash? Grammar experts badly needed?

Below are examples if an em-dash and en-dash. They seem to be used in the same concept--like so (what I just did). But I think that some authors use en-dashes instead of em-dashes; either that or it's the font. So does it matter which you use?


Bob looked around in wonder -- not bothering to pay attention to Charlie -- and sighed.


Bob looked around in wonder--not bothering to listen to Charlie--and sighed.

Help very appreciated. Thanks!

2 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Forget the en dash—its uses are technical, and there is nothing you can't do with a hyphen or an em dash. You would need to refer to a stylebook to use en dashes. That's more the editor's job. The en dash is not used as sentence punctuation; that's the em dash.

    When we type in here, most people use only the keys on their keyboard. You can simulate an em dash with three hyphens---like that---with no spaces. If you must use an en dash, you can simulate that with two hyphens. One use of the en dash is to denote ranges and scores, as a substitute for the word "to": Write the numbers 10--20 in French. The Rangers were ahead 3--2.

    The dashes are also available in Character Map in Windows and as ALT codes. I have memorized the code for em dash, 0151, because it is a major mark of punctuation and a dismal omission from the standard keyboard. If you hover on the en dash in Character Map, it will show you the code for that.

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