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Advanced Composition 

Making the Dash Work for You

 October 25, 2001

In The Elements of Style, Strunk and White advise us to, "Use a dash to set off an abrupt break or interruption, and to announce a long appositive or summary." Further, they say that a "dash is a mark of separation stronger than a comma, less formal than a colon, and more relaxed than parentheses."

Examples of the Dash:

His most common way to learn English—if it could be called a way to learn—was to spend hours working with an electronic translation dictionary. (as an abrupt break; parentheses could also be used)

The windshield wipers began to make a noise—a squeaking racket that set his teeth on edge. (as an informal colon)

Writing Assignment:

Write about a time you were in a great hurry. Use the word "dash" as a verb in your writing. As well, use the dash as a mark of punctuation in both ways-as an interruption and as a replacement for a colon.

Teacher Writing Sample on this topic.

Please also visit your Advanced Composition Class Page where you can access current and past lessons.

More Lessons (index of past lesson worksheets)