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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.

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

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  • 2
    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

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.
  • Couldn't have said it better myself. – Robusto Jan 17 '11 at 15:50

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