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 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 …

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 …

That Pesky Word “So”

When so is said at the end of a thought, it seems to say “So that is my explanation; that is my reason.” The word so can mean “for that reason” or “therefore” when it is used as a conjunction. In this case, at the end of a sentence that does not go on, so means “therefore.” And when so …

Another Off-Beat Dash Rule

When a person finishes a sentence and then decides to add “clarification” in the form of an appositive that renames the subject, the only correct punctuation is a dash. …We didn’t have the expertise to do that kind of project — my husband and I. …They came in quietly and said nothing during the meeting — the supervisors. …It is …

A Not-Very-Well-Known Dash Rule

Most reporters use the dash simply for that ever-present interruption. There are, however, grammar rules associated with the dash. Here’s one: When an indefinite pronoun follows ONE word and renames it, there is most often a comma. When an indefinite pronoun follows MORE THAN ONE word and renames each word, there should be a dash. …He took medications, some of …

A Dash or a Hyphen?

Just a quick note to get some terminology cleared up: The dash in formal English is a long mark, called the “em” dash, that is flush against the word on either side. In court reporting, back in the “carbon paper days,” we had only a typewriter, and it did not have the em dash, the long mark. So we decided …