When writing dialogue, a dash can be used to denote interruption. For example:

“Hello, can I ask you about—”


If a character is interrupting themself, should the first word of the interruption be capitalized? In other words, should the word oh be capitalized in the following quote?

“Have you seen — oh my God, you’re him!”


2 Answers 2


Jane Straus advocates lower-case to follow a dash even after a sentence fragment:

I wish you would—oh, never mind.

To adapt her comments, This shows an abrupt change in thought and warrants an em dash.

Usage on the internet is non-uniform.

  • She doesn't clearly state a rule, so much as implies common usage to semicolons or other compound sentence constructs.
    – DougM
    Dec 22, 2013 at 1:19
  • And "usage on the internet is non-uniform" is so obvious it may be a tautology.
    – DougM
    Dec 22, 2013 at 1:20
  • @DougM If I see someone smoking, I feel I'm justified in considering him a smoker; I quoted Straus's example verbatim. If she had labelled this practice a rule, I probably would have looked a lot further to find someone of equal stature saying or clearly implying it wasn't – I just pointed out that it's not universal practice. Dec 22, 2013 at 9:33
  • I suggest if there's a problem there, that's using a dash rather than ellipsis… The past is another country and today, doesn't "I wish you would — oh, never mind" read more like an attempt at recording sound that speech? To me if we put grammar or semantics before phonetics, it would be more like: "I wish you would… Oh, never mind." Feb 24, 2021 at 1:08
  • I'd agree with Truss that the dash is a more abrupt signal than an ellipsis. The ellipsis is still, after all, used to show a trailing off of a thought, train of speech (among other things, but this must at least inform). In fact Truss says as much: 'Experienced writers know that these marks are not interchangeable. Note how dashes subtly change the tone of the following sentences ...' (she adds the example I give, after the 'ellipsised' alternative). Feb 24, 2021 at 12:25

It would be “I wish you would…. Oh, never mind.” “…” Is a pause but you still need a period after if you’re ending the sentence.

  • 1
    The question was asking about capitalization after a dash not an ellipsis. Aug 18 at 10:50

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