What is the correct way to use semicolons vs. commas vs. em dashes?

Asked by: Justin Lentz

Should I use an em dash or semicolon?

The difference between an em-dash and a semicolon is the length and purpose of the pause it creates. An em-dash isolates the idea that follows; a semicolon combines two ideas into one. The best way to determine if you can use an em-dash or a semicolon is to try them both out in your sentence, then read it aloud.

Should I use a comma or an em dash?

Use an Em Dash to Set Off Appositives that Contain Commas

Commas are usually used to offset the appositive, but if the appositive contains one or more commas, adding additional commas would be confusing for the reader. When using an appositive that contains a comma, offset it with dashes, instead.

How do you use dashes and semicolons?

  1. Semicolons. Use a semicolon to separate two related independent clauses (clauses that can stand as sentences on their own) that are not linked by a comma and coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, yet, and so). …
  2. Colons. Use a colon to introduce a list. …
  3. Dashes. A dash is typed as two hyphens.
  4. How do you use an em dash correctly?

    The em dash can function like a comma, a colon, or parenthesis. Like commas and parentheses, em dashes set off extra information, such as examples, explanatory or descriptive phrases, or supplemental facts. Like a colon, an em dash introduces a clause that explains or expands upon something that precedes it.

    Can an em dash replace a semicolon?

    An em dash is a punctuation mark that can be used to replace commas, parentheses, colons, and semicolons. In general, the em dash is seen as being more interruptive or striking than other punctuation, so it is often used stylistically to draw a reader’s attention to a particular bit of information.

    When would you use a semicolon?

    Use a semicolon to join two related independent clauses in place of a comma and a coordinating conjunction (and, but, or, nor, for, so, yet). Make sure when you use the semicolon that the connection between the two independent clauses is clear without the coordinating conjunction.

    Can you use dashes instead of commas?

    A pair of em dashes can be used in place of commas to enhance readability. Note, however, that dashes are always more emphatic than commas.

    What is semicolon example?

    Examples of Semicolons: Joan likes eggs; Jennifer does not. The cat slept through the storm; the dog cowered under the bed. Semicolons are also used in a sentence when something stronger than a comma is needed.

    How do you use an em dash in the middle of a sentence?

    To Indicate an Interruption or Change in Thought

    Particularly useful when writing dialogue, an em dash can be used to indicate interjections or changes in thought mid-sentence. This technique is best used in creative or informal writing. Examples: As I was saying—Katie, no, put the scissors down!

    What is the difference between an en dash and an em dash?

    The em dash and en dash are both dashes, but there are some key differences between them. The first is the width of the dash. The em dash (—) is the long dash—it’s roughly the same length as a capital M. The en dash (–) is shorter, taking up the same space as a capital N.

    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.

    Where do you put semicolons?

    Using Semicolons

    1. A semicolon is most commonly used to link (in a single sentence) two independent clauses that are closely related in thought. …
    2. Use a semicolon between two independent clauses that are connected by conjunctive adverbs or transitional phrases.

    When should you use a dash in your writing?

    Use dashes to set off an idea or an appositive within a sentence. A dash (—) is a punctuation mark used to set off an idea within a sentence and may be used alone or in pairs. Dashes interrupt a thought in a more dramatic way than a phrase enclosed in commas, but less theatrically than parentheses.

    Why use a dash in a sentence?

    1. To set off material for emphasis. Think of dashes as the opposite of parentheses. Where parentheses indicate that the reader should put less emphasis on the enclosed material, dashes indicate that the reader should pay more attention to the material between the dashes.

    How do you use a semicolon in a list examples?

    Semicolons separate items in a complex list. For example, The Council is comprised of ten members: three from Sydney, Australia; four from Auckland, New Zealand; two from Suva, Fiji; and one from Honiara, Solomon Islands. Semicolons join two closely related independent clauses.

    Does a semicolon mean or?

    A semicolon separates two independent but related clauses; it may also replace the comma to separate items in a complicated list. Check out our guide on how and when to use semicolons.

    Is the Oxford comma?

    The Oxford comma is the comma placed before the conjunction at the end of a list of things. For example, in “the flag was red, white, and blue”, the Oxford comma would be the one appearing before “and”. Proponents of the Oxford comma say it’s necessary for removing ambiguity in sentences.

    Does a comma splice have to have a comma?

    When you join two independent clauses with a comma and no conjunction, it’s called a comma splice. Some people consider this a type of run-on sentence, while other people think of it as a punctuation error.

    Why is a comma splice wrong?

    While it’s grammatically correct to link an independent clause and dependent clause with a comma, joining two independent clauses with a comma without placing a conjunction, or joining word, between them is an example of incorrect grammar.

    What is the comma splice rule?

    A comma splice is the unjustifiable use of only a comma to combine two separate sentences. (One should use either a period, a semicolon, or a coordinating conjunction and a comma to separate the two statements.)

    What are the comma rules?

    Commas (Eight Basic Uses)

    • Use a comma to separate independent clauses. …
    • Use a comma after an introductory clause or phrase. …
    • Use a comma between all items in a series. …
    • Use commas to set off nonrestrictive clauses. …
    • Use a comma to set off appositives. …
    • Use a comma to indicate direct address. …
    • Use commas to set off direct quotations.

    What are the 3 comma rules?

    Since I made such a stink about it, let’s start with this rule:

    • Use a comma between items in a series or list.
    • Use a comma between two independent clauses separated by a conjunction.
    • Use a comma between two adjectives preceding a noun.
    • Your Mission.

    What are the 4 types of commas?

    There are four types of comma: the listing comma, the joining comma, the gapping comma and bracketing commas.

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