Hyphen, Comma or Brackets? What should I use?

Asked by: Kristen Webster

Formality of your writing helps determine your choice

  1. Commas are more formal than dashes or parentheses. They are also less intrusive. …
  2. Dashes are less formal than commas or parentheses. …
  3. Parentheses are most useful to include short asides or background information such as dates, percentages and financial information.

Should I use brackets commas or dashes?

Use dashes when you want your writing to sound more chatty and informal. Use commas, when your writing is more formal and you haven’t already used lots of commas in your sentence – adding a parenthesis with even more commas could make your sentence look messy!

Why would you use dashes instead of brackets?

Dashes and parentheses indicate an “aside” to the point you are making in your sentence. Although sometimes considered interchangeable, each serves a specific purpose in your writing. Dashes interrupt your writing to insert an interjection or pause, while parentheses gently add information to your point.

Can you use punctuation in brackets?

Using other punctuation with brackets

Include full stops/exclamation marks/question marks/quotation marks before the close bracket only if the complete sentence/quote is in brackets. Otherwise, punctuate after the closing bracket.

Why are dashes used instead of commas?

Using a dash in place of a comma

Em dashes can be used in pairs to replace commas when writing a parenthetical or interruptive phrase. The dashes have a slightly more emphatic feel, making the reader focus on the information that is set inside the special marks.

What can be used in place of brackets?

Dashes play a similar role to parentheses in text—although they can be used singly as well as in pairs.

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What does three dots in brackets mean?

Those three little dots are called an ellipsis (plural: ellipses). The term ellipsis comes from the Greek word meaning “omission,” and that’s just what an ellipsis does—it shows that something has been left out. When you’re quoting someone, you can use an ellipsis to show that you’ve omitted some of their words.

How do you use dashes and hyphens?

A hyphen joins two or more words together while a dash separates words into parenthetical statements. The two are sometimes confused because they look so similar, but their usage is different. Hyphens are not separated by spaces, while a dash has a space on either side.

What are the 3 uses of the dash?

Dashes are used to separate groups of words, not to separate parts of words like a hyphen does. (learn more about the difference between a dash and a hyphen here). There are three forms of dashes: em, en, and the double hyphen. The most common types of dashes are the en dash (–) and the em dash (—).

What is a dash punctuation examples?

Dashes replace otherwise mandatory punctuation, such as the commas after Iowa and 2020 in the following examples: Without dash: The man from Ames, Iowa, arrived. With dash: The man—he was from Ames, Iowa—arrived. Without dash: The May 1, 2020, edition of the Ames Sentinel arrived in June.

Can an em dash replace a colon?

In informal writing, em dashes may replace commas, semicolons, colons, and parentheses to indicate added emphasis, an interruption, or an abrupt change of thought. Examples: You are the friend—the only friend—who offered to help me.

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Can you use a comma after an em dash?

The em-dash does not take comma after it. That’s because, as you said it correctly, it replaces a comma so you don’t need to put it again. An em-dash may replace commas, semicolons, colons, and parentheses to indicate added emphasis, an interruption, or an abrupt change of thought.

Is it okay to use dashes in an essay?

The first thing to know when talking about dashes is that they are almost never required by the laws of grammar and punctuation. Overusing dashes can break up the flow of your writing, making it choppy or even difficult to follow, so don’t overdo it.