Writing Workshops & Seminars            Home
  Copyright by Stephen Wilbers
                 Contact

Google
 Search
www.wilbers.com

Home        Tips & exercises         Seminars         Email courses         Books         Weekly columns

Weekly Error

Change

I don’t know what’s wrong with this sentence [-] do you?

To
I don’t know what’s wrong with this sentence [—] do you?

Hyphen used in place of a dash:

The hyphen and the dash are two different punctuation marks.  When the typewriter was invented in the 19th century, the keyboard did not include a dash (–) key.  Today the dash (–) can be created by typing two hyphens (--).

 

Your software will convert the two hyphens into a solid dash – sometimes called an “em dash” because it’s as long as the letter m.

 

Some software programs will also convert a hyphen into a dash when the hyphen is typed with a space before and after it.

 

Use dashes to create special emphasis, or to separate elements in a sentence as in the example above.  Use hyphens to spell compound words, as in decision-maker, and to form compound adjectives, as in first-rate work and long-term plans.

 

Back to Weekly Tip

See Error Checklist for a compilation of 75 common writing errors.

For more exercises in identifying common errors,
take the M.B.A. exam and
the Punctuation and Grammar Challenges.