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April 09, 2006

H-Y-P-H-E-N -dash-

Truss 4 & 5 -- Jerz: Intro to Literary Study (EL150)

"If you take hyphens seriously, you will surely go mad." WELL...prior to reading this chapter, I was beginning to think that I was going mad. I was able to understand the dash when Professor Jerz explained it in class; however, I was confused about the hyphen. While Jerz gave us a sturdy foundation to start with, Truss was able to go into further detail about hyphens. I suppose I was more confused about why dashes and hyphens had different names, when they looked exactly the same. I now know that they are called different names because they have different actions that they take.

A hyphen is used when spelling out numbers, such as thirty-two. A hyphen is also used to link nouns with other nouns, such as the London-Brighton train. Certain prefixes also require a hyphen such as un-American, anti-Apartheid, pro-hyphens (giggle), quasi-grammatical. Also, when certain words are spelled out, a hyphen should be used to indicate what you want to be pictured---> S-E-T-O-N H-I-L-L... A hyphen is also used for hesitation and stammering.

A dash is used when a writer is concerned about connecting or seperating phrases and sentences. A dash can be replaced for a comma. This is how I remember what the difference between a dash and a hyphen is.

Posted by ElyseBranam at April 9, 2006 04:47 PM


Great set of tips, Elyse -- you're a top-notch hyphenator!

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at April 9, 2006 07:06 PM

I think you did a great job helping us all with the hypen and the dash.
Isn't punctuation hard at times?
I do think that Truss does do a great job showing and telling where and how to use all of the punctuation.

Posted by: Denamarie Ercolani at April 9, 2006 09:39 PM

Ah yes, but they actually don't look the same. One is certainly briefer than the other, and some people don't even notice. But when I have to get text ready for print (whether it's for Eye Contact or a design project) I have to go through and convert any of the hyphens that should be dashes to actual dashes. I don't know how you do it in Windows, but on a Mac it's option and hyphen (or the minus sign). Word just converts two -- into a dash automatically... try them out, you'll notice the difference.

Posted by: Mike Rubino at April 10, 2006 12:47 AM

Thanks Elyse, I think you really know what Truss is getting at! I understand the way you said it much better.

Posted by: Erin at April 10, 2006 10:11 AM

Elyse, I also didn't fully understand when Dr. Jerz described it to us. In my blog I pointed out the quote that Truss uses.
"Whereas a dash is generally concerned to connect (or seperate) phrases and sentences, the tiny tricksy hyphen (used above in such phrases as "quasi-dashes", "double-taps" and "stream-of-conciousness") is used quite distinctly to connect (or seperate) individual words."

That made me understand it a lot better as well. I was also wondering why hyphens and dash meant two different things when they look the same. That quote helps me alot more.

Posted by: Danielle Meyer at April 10, 2006 12:20 PM

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