What are dashes? How do you when when to use dashes? Need help understanding what dashes are? Check out our page and find dashes examples, a definition of dashes and learn when to use dashes in your own writing.

Dashes: When to use Dashes

Dashes are a punctuation mark. It sets off information that interrupts the flow of a sentence.

Writers use dashes in a lot of different situations. For example, a sudden break is an instance of when to use dashes. They may also use dashes in dialogue to show when one character’s speech is interrupted by another’s. Dashes help writers set off long explanatory statements, or statements that give more information about someone or something. Dashes also help set off introductory lists.

Examples of When to use Dashes

What is a Dash?
When to Use Dashes #1) Irene—the woman wearing the blue dress and brimmed hat—is my great-aunt.
When to Use Dashes #2) Flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda—we need to buy all of these ingredients if we’re going to make cookies today.
When to Use Dashes #3) Fiona said, “I was going to take the train to come see you, but—”“Nonsense,” David replied. “We’ll come get you.”
When to Use Dashes #4) Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee—these are all the states we’ll be driving through on our vacation.
When to Use Dashes #5) Cynthia—the neighbor you met at the Fourth of July party last year—is going to babysit for us next weekend.
Dash Examples
When to Use Dashes #6) Machu Picchu—an ancient city known for its famous ruins, high altitude, and mountainous terrain—is located in Peru.
When to Use Dashes #7) Sam whispered to his friend, “I don’t think we’re supposed to be in this building after—” “Be quiet,” Miles interrupted. “I hear someone coming.”
When to Use Dashes #8) Bianca was excited about getting a new car—until she suddenly realized how much it was going to cost her.
When to Use Dashes #9) Shadow puppetry—an art form in which the audience views the shadows of puppets through a translucent screen—is popular in parts of Asia.
When to Use Dashes #10) I was going to pick up dinner on the way home—unless you’d rather wait to eat.

Dashes Versus Hyphens

Though dashes and hyphens have a similar look, they serve different purposes. While dashes show interruptions in thoughts or speech, hyphens connect parts of words. Dashes are also longer than hyphens.


Dashes: I left a message for Bill—the mechanic who’s going to fix my car for me.
Hyphen: That self-portrait is really good