A Little-Known Dash Rule

Besides using the dash for interruptions (broken sentence structure), there are some grammar rules that govern the use of the dash. When a pronoun refers back to one noun, use a comma in front of the pronoun; when a pronoun refers back to several nouns, use a dash in front of the pronoun. …We received several letters, each of which …

The Colon or the Dash

There is a place where the rule for the colon and the rule for the dash overlap, in other words, a place where each one is correct. …There are several things to consider: money outlay, time spent, manpower involved. …There are several things to consider — money outlay, time spent, manpower involved. In this instance, it is really best to opt for the colon …

The “Summary” Dash

There is a little-known dash rule that is called the “summary dash.” It is used when a sentence has concluded and a clause refers back to the subject of that sentence. The clause is really an appositive to the subject of the sentence. (There are other instances of a summary dash that we will save for another day.) …It was something I never …

A Rather Obscure Dash Rule

When an indefinite pronoun renames one noun, use a comma. …He saw several books, none of which interested him. …We looked at three models, each of which had some interesting features. …I talked to the kids involved, all of which told the same story. When an indefinite pronoun renames several nouns, use a dash. …He saw books, pamphlets, and magazines …

The Sentence Is Over…

We see this same pattern often: We have finished a sentence; then we throw in something that renames the subject of that sentence. …We decided to spend the weekend away — my husband and I….The company had been in the red — Mitchell Engineering. …That is what I wanted to tell you — that he was here today. The grammar …

The Dash You Hate

…The key that was hidden on the premises — is it the one you used to get in that night? “The key that was hidden on the premises” is the start of a sentence that never gets finished. Then the person comes back and uses a complete sentence with a reference to “key” with the word “it.” There is nothing …

Capping After the Dash

Do not cap a word after a dash unless it always has to be capped. …He was on his way to — to visit her in the hospital. …She helped him to — helped her to the couch after she fell. When there is a complete chance of topic after the dash, paragraph the next sentence. Of course, the paragraphed …

Commas Around Them, Commas Inside Them

When elements that have commas around them also have commas within them, the commas around them change to dashes. …If it has misspellings — whether they be medications, medical terms, or names — you’ll end up having to change them yourself. …The men who helped us — Ron, Ross, Ralph, and Manny — volunteered on their own. …All of the …

The Dash —

Rather than thinking of the dash as being used for an “interruption,” it will serve you better to frame that rule as “A dash is used for a sentence that got started and did not get finished — broken sentence structure.” This thinking will allow you to use a dash in some places that may feel uncomfortable but where it …