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When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen?

This is about hyphens (-), en-dashes (–) and em-dashes (—).

When to use which one? To be honest, I always use em-dashes unless I join words with a hyphen, but I never use an en-dash.

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marked as duplicate by JSBձոգչ, nohat Jan 17 '11 at 18:21

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Exact Duplicate of: When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen? –  Sid Jan 17 '11 at 13:00
    
@iamsid I'm sorry. It didn't show up in the 'related' box when I typed the title. I don't have enough rep yet to close this. :( –  rightfold Jan 17 '11 at 13:17
    
@iamsid, no I'm a Time Machine. :) –  rightfold Jan 17 '11 at 13:28
    
Machine: No need to apologize! We're only human. :) –  Sid Jan 17 '11 at 13:28

1 Answer 1

Hyphens are used in compound modifiers.

  • a well-trained professional
  • over-the-counter drugs

En dashes are used in place of "to" to connect numbers or words.

  • The London–Amsterdam flight is delayed.
  • The meeting is from 3:00–4:30 p.m.

Em dashes help set off amplifying or explanatory statements.

  • The vampire—it had been awake half the night—flew out of its coffin.
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Couldn't have said it better myself. –  Robusto Jan 17 '11 at 15:50

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