Grammar and punctuation can be tricky when you’re writing. If you’re not sure what all those dashes are or how to use them, this video clearly explains the differences between the hyphen (-), the en dash ( — ), and the em dash ( — ).
In the video from The New Yorker’s YouTube channel, Comma Queen Mary Norris breaks down the rules for all three dashes. They hyphen is the shortest mark and is used for making compound words (like cinder-block), and when you break a word at the end of a line. The mid-length en dash is a hybrid punctuation mark that is used vary sparingly to link two compounds (like The New York — New Haven Railway), or for sports scores (like the Yankees won 5 — 0). Lastly, the em dash is the longest of the dashes and is commonly used in pairs to replace excess punctuation in a sentence and clean things up a bit. Norris’s example looks like this:
Recent investigations — including a pending case involving a man believed to have been Sinaloa’s highest-ranking tunnel manager — have provided some answers.
Dashes can be confusing if you don’t know how to use them, but they can be really powerful when used properly. Now you can be a little more dashing.
Comma Queen: Mad Dash [YouTube]