Em Dash Examples: 6 Glorious Uses of the Dash in Literature
The em dash is the most adaptable and intuitive punctuation mark available, and some authors have used it in unconventional ways to suit their tastes. The em dash opens up countless, dazzling possibilities for sentence construction. Here are some lovely em dash examples from literature.
Example #1: The Dash as Picture Frame
An em dash can be used to create an image for the reader. In the example above, three letters are tagged names on a bar wall. The em dash allows Brinkley to show the names themselves without interrupting the flow of the story.
Example #2: The Dash as Hesitation
“I used to do that for him all the time,” Mary Gaitskill says of her father. “He looked shocked and said, ‘No, she’s just a dumb broad,'” she adds.
Example #3: The Dash at the Party with All Its Friends
“I prefer men to cauliflowers,” says Virginia Woolf in Mrs. Dalloway. This sentence has a lot going on, and the em dashes are only a small part of it. What I like about it is how punctuation is used to create new asides within asides, with the marks varying for texture.
Example #4: The Dash as Punchy Lead-in
A semicolon or period would not physically connect the two parts, and would give the impression of too much hesitancy. An em dash makes a story funny for a variety of reasons, one of which is purely visual: the flat line almost seems to represent the dial tone that isn’t there.
Example #5: The Dash Hanging Out, Looking Cool While the Author Breaks Rules
The em dash is used to redirect and cap off a stream-of-consciousness riff, providing relief from the earlier lack of punctuation while also serving as an artistic flourish. Also, the dash leading into italics creates a distinct sense of motion, which isn’t cool.
Example #6: The Dash Dream from Inception
The use of multiple dashes creates a sense of speed and urgency while also drawing attention to the most enclosed part of the sentence: “and she might die” u2014Vladimir Nabokov.
What does a long dash mean in a book?
In dialogue, an ellipsis indicates that the speaker has trailed off: “I don’t know. Maybe it’s something…” she trailed off, whereas an em dash indicates that they have been cut off.
What is the long dash in writing called?
The dash (u2014), also known as the em dash, is a long horizontal bar that is much longer than a hyphen. Although few keyboards have a dash, most word processors can produce one in some way. If your keyboard doesn’t have a dash, you’ll have to use a hyphen as a substitute.
How do you do a long dash?
Using em dashes instead of parentheses to set off parenthetical information puts the focus on the information between the em dashes. Make sure to use two em dashes for this usage: one before the parenthetical information and one after it.
How do you use an em dash in a novel?
Don’t confuse an em dash (u2014) with a hyphen (-). In fiction, the em dash almost always appears with no spaces around it, as mentioned above (“What theu2014”), or material set off parenthetically from the main pointu2014like this.
What are () called in English?
They can also be used in mathematical expressions, such as 21 [23-3]=x. Parentheses ( () ) are curved notations that are used to contain additional thoughts or qualifying remarks; however, in most cases, parentheses can be replaced with commas without changing the meaning.
Why do writers use a dash?
A dash is a small horizontal line that floats in the middle of a line of text (not at the bottom, which is an underscore), is longer than a hyphen, and is commonly used to indicate a range or pause. Dashes are used to separate groups of words, not parts of words, as hyphens are.
Which dash is about half the length of an em dash?
En dashes. Despite its name, the en dash has more in common with the hyphen than the em dash; in fact, it’s easier to think of the en dash as a variant of the hyphen, because it’s half the length of the em.
How long is an em dash?
The character is known as an em dash because it is one em wide, a length that varies depending on the font size (one em is the same length as the font’s height, which is typically measured in points). For example, an em dash in 9-point type is nine points wide, while an em dash in 24-point type is 24 points wide.
What does an M dash do?
The em dash (u2014) is the longest of the dashes (e.g., hyphen, en dash) and adds emphasis to a word or clause. It can also signal an interruption (for more on that, see our article on interrupting sentences!) or amplification (u201cexpandingu201d) of an idea.
What is em dash example?
To create a break in a sentence, use em dashes instead of commas or parentheses, as in: Please call my lawyer, Richard Smith, on Tuesday. This sentence could also be written with commas or parentheses.
What is a double em dash?
To interrupt a sentence, double dashes are used instead of commas (or parentheses). The phrase separated by dashes must be grammatically inessential, which simply means that the sentence will work without it.
Can you use an em dash in dialogue?
Include an em dash inside the quotation marks at the point where the dialogue is interrupted to show an interruption of the spoken words; the format is the same as interrupting the dialogue; the dialogue goes between the quotation marks and dashes separate the action from the dialogue.
What is a spaced en rule?
Many business writers use a hyphen instead of an en rule because it creates more space between items, according to the Australian Style manual. An en rule is unspaced if one word or figure is linked, but spaced if there are more than one linked word on either or both sides.
What is a closed em dash?
Use a CLOSED-UP EM DASH to indicate that a speaking character has been interrupted, whether you’re publishing in US or UK English.