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25

I once read a memorable column (by Willam Safire) that talked about this. I ran across it in his book You Could Look It Up, which is a collection of his newspaper columns about language. This one was first printed over 30 years ago, in 1984 – wow! time flies! – but I think it still rings pretty true. I managed to find a scan of the original column:


21

On resumes, the most common way to indicate that a period is ongoing is either 2009 – present or 2009 to present The en dash is the preferred punctuation. Many word processors replace a double hyphen with an en dash once the next word is typed.


15

If we can trust Grammar Girl's thoroughness of search, then her advice is sound: Every style guide I checked, except the AP Stylebook, stated there should be no spaces between an em-dash and the adjacent words. That means it is a style choice. If you're writing for a newspaper, magazine, or website that uses Associated Press style, put in the ...


11

I'm the woman from the video. Saying 'tac' isn't silly at all. I grew up in a military family, so this was used regularly when speaking of a dash. Without getting into details, my father was in many fields where he was required to spell out commands via a speaking system, and they used tac. In school, we used 'dash'. Generally, I use tac when referring to ...


10

I have been searching for the same as the OP. More searching has revealed this in the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual (I have not read the whole of it, so I might be misinterpreting it): 16.17. Signatures, preceded by an em dash, are sometimes run in with last line of text. UPDATE (2019-10-01) There appears to be a PDF render of the ...


10

Em dashes can be used if allowed by your style guide (but don't use them too often). For example, this is what APA says: First, when would you use an em dash? The Publication Manual (p. 97) notes that em dashes are “used to set off an element added to amplify or to digress from the main clause.” The em dash draws a reader’s attention, partly because of the ...


9

According to a reddit.com post, this usage “originates as a navy term for flag signalling”: A tackline is a length of halyard approximately 6 feet long; the exact length depends upon the size of flags in use. The tackline is transmitted and spoken as tack and is written as a dash (hyphen) "-". It is used to avoid ambiguity. It separates signals or groups ...


8

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, you should drop the comma. See section 6.86: "In modern usage, if the context calls for an em dash where a comma would ordinarily separate a dependent clause from an independent clause, the comma is omitted." No word on commas that separate independent clauses from each other, however, which is the case that brought ...


7

An ellipsis is used in a quote to convey that the speaker trails off. An em dash is used in a quote to convey that the speaker is cut off, even if the speaker cuts him/herself off, as is the case in your second example. Source: https://nhwn.wordpress.com/2011/09/13/grammar-ease-ellipsis-versus-the-em-dash/


7

If you must use something other than quotation marks for dialog, here is The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.) 6.91: Em dashes are occasionally used instead of quotation marks to set off dialogue (à la writers in some European languages). Each speech starts a new paragraph. No space follows the dash. —Will he obtain the necessary signatures? —Of course he ...


6

If you are using it as a compound adjective or noun, as in your example sentence, it should be "40-50-year-olds". If you are using it as a separate qualifier, as in BillFranke's suggested alternate wording, than it would be "those 40-50 years old". Confusing, perhaps, but the general rule is that when any sort of counted "thing" is used as an adjective, ...


6

Your example seems to refer to an epigraph, which is a short passage normally used at the start of a book or chapter. There is no "single" answer. It depends entirely on the style guide or in-house style manual. The Chicago Manual of Style (13.36) says that An author may wish to include an epigraph—a quotation that is pertinent but not integral to the ...


6

First, it's not a hyphen; it's an em dash. We use it for: Aposiopesis: where a sentence is ended suddenly because the speaker is too emotional or can't think of the right way to express something or just— A stronger break than parentheses—inserting a clause in the middle of another though—but remaining with the same sentence. Showing a change of thought, ...


6

In your example, the em dashes are used in pairs to set off parenthetical phrases. A parenthetical phrase is a clause that is inserted into the flow of an otherwise complete sentence as an "interruption" that adds additional information. If the parenthetical phrase is removed, the remaining words should form a full and complete sentence on their own. ...


6

Unicode now calls all of these "Dash" characters (meaning, they have the "Dash" property, not that their names mention dash): U+002D ‭ - HYPHEN-MINUS U+058A ‭ ֊ ARMENIAN HYPHEN U+05BE ‭ ־ HEBREW PUNCTUATION MAQAF U+1400 ‭ ᐀ CANADIAN SYLLABICS HYPHEN U+1806 ‭ ᠆ MONGOLIAN TODO SOFT HYPHEN U+2010 ‭ ‐ HYPHEN U+2011 ‭ ‑ NON-BREAKING HYPHEN U+2012 ‭ ‒ ...


5

For a view directly opposed to Wikipedia's, consider this entry from Words Into Type, Third Edition (1974): Parentheses are used to enclose expressions that are of such a nature that they would not be sufficiently set off by commas or dashes. Many times dashes or parentheses are equally good style, but parentheses should preferably be reserved to enclose ...


5

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest, on no more evidence than my own inattentive impression, that @Billare is right: your premise is wrong. Pages 143 ff. of this show that dashes, ellipses and the like were more common in the past than you might think. But they showed up most often in relatively ephemeral works—those which are least likely to ...


5

What you have written is incorrect, several times over. First, you never follow a dash with punctuation; it simply isn’t done. Second, you didn’t use a dash there, and you should have done so. These are your three main choices here, with some variation in number 2: Unspaced em dash: You didn’t use a dash there—and you should have done so. (no space) ...


5

Good catch - it shows careful reading. But consider that the story was published in 1846 (and probably written the year before). Today we might use either the semicolon or the em-dash (but not both). Typically, the part after a semicolon is a complete sentence - one that is closely related to the first part (also usually a complete sentence). (I'm glad ...


5

There is no rule that prohibits the use of or to isolate clauses in your interrupting phrase: A word group (a statement, question, or exclamation) that interrupts the flow of a sentence and is usually set off by commas, dashes, or parentheses. Note: there are rules for using dashes, parentheses, and commas. See parentheses vs. double commas vs. dashes ...


5

Great question! (A coincidence of https://english.stackexchange.com/a/190692/8286 ) Just FWIW, I say "minus" like you ("l s minus a l") or often just don't say the minus. So, in the example I'd read "n c l p 1234" IMO very few people say hyphen. I'd say "dash" is common, but I'd say "minus" is more common ...


5

hyphen "The short one" Its diminutive size helps the reader to read the two words as a single word. Ideally, this would be visually invisible and the two words would be directly joined, but grammar rules don't agree. en-dash "The mid-sized one" The difference in appearance is important in order to signal to the reader that it should not be interpreted as a ...


5

In a maths context (at least within physics) in the UK, you would use "prime". If you didn't, you'd say something more specific, like "first derivative of x", as the prime can be used for other derived variables as well (e.g. x after an event, especially in lower level work) A "dash" is a horizontal line, and isn't commonly used in mathematics as it's very ...


4

According to some place called the Ashford Writing Center (PDF): Rule #5: Use an em dash before the source of a quotation when the source is listed after the quotation.


4

While spaces are not normally used with en dashes, and exception is often made in this case because without a space it can turn "2013–January" into a single visual unit, and so more closely bind these parts of the separate dates, than they are to the rest of the date they actually belong to. We would not use spaces with partial dates like "June–August 2012",...


4

The simplest and the one I would prefer is to treat it as two sentences: One more thing. Don't tell anyone about our conversation (on the subject of this and that ...) This also gives you the facility to maneuver the second part. Where the second part is short, and more important, use a colon to direct attention: One more thing: don't tell her....


4

In What is the correct abbreviation of “continued”?, absurd forms like Example Co. ABC Manager 2012 - cont. Example Co. ABC Manager 2012 - (continued) with hyphens were suggested, besides better forms (with en dashes) like Example Co. ABC Manager 2012 forward Example Co. ABC Manager 2012 – present Example Co. ABC Manager 2012 – ...


4

Second, it's not a sentence. What's the subject, what's the verb? It's a complex adjective phrase (i.e, a reduced disjoined restrictive relative clause), with a couple of descriptive similes attached, after being introduced by like, like most similes. The whole apparatus might well be what one would put after This thing here [pointing] is ...


4

Unlike pure spelling and basic punctuation rules, the shape of punctuation marks and characters are governed only by style guide and personal practice. Some style guides even advise consistently using only three separate dots (never ellipses) and simple hyphens (never en dashes, em dashes, numeric dashes, or horizontal bars). What level of typographic ...


4

A pair of dashes is used, as here, to separate a strong interruption from the rest of the sentence. Consistency requires the interruption to be terminated by the same punctuation mark that began it.


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