Dashes and Hyphens
Hyphens and dashes, specifically en-dashes and em-dashes, have specific functions. They are not interchangeable, and it is helpful to learn to use them correctly.
A hyphen connects two words that are closely related and function together as a single concept. It makes compound words clearer and easier to read and helps remove confusion if the two words could have a different meaning if not linked with a hyphen.
- That’s a high-rise building.
- She wore a low-cut dress.
- Read this real-estate article.
- He made a toll-free call.
- It has thirty-three pages.
- That’s my great-grandfather.
In general, compound words are typically hyphenated before a noun, but not after a noun.
- It’s a part-time job. / The job is part time.
- That is a free-standing pole. / That pole is free standing.
- It was a barbed-wire fence. / The fence was barbed wire.
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