The en dash is an important symbol that is often used in writing to indicate ranges or set apart phrases. However, if you don't know when to use an en dash in a sentence correctly, you may experience a loss of consumer confidence in your company, product, or brand.
Therefore, knowing how the en dash is used in writing will help you use it in the right context. Let's take another look into the specific uses of the en dash.
To indicate number and date ranges
It's important to know when to use an en dash in a sentence so your target audience can clearly understand your message. One common way of using an en dash is to indicate a number range or date range. In this case, the en dash replaces the words "through" or "to" in a sentence. Here are some examples:
- The librarian stated that books numbered 1–30 were already loaned out, so I borrowed book number 31.
- Our restaurant will be closed for renovations during June 3–29.
To connect words of equal weight
Another situation when an en dash would be used is to connect words of equal weight in a sentence. A few examples of this include:
- When writing a novel, good author–editor communication is a high priority.
- The Anglo–Powhatan Wars during the 1600s took place in the Colony of Virginia between colonists and Native Americans.
- The Cleveland–Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition works to improve the quality of food in urban areas and throughout Northeast Ohio.
To replace "to" or "versus"
En dashes are often used in writing to replace words "to" or "versus". This would look like:
- Phoenix–Cleveland is a long flight
- Donald Trump–Joe Biden was quite an interesting election match-up.
To set apart phrases or clauses
En dashes can also be used to set apart phrases or clauses in a sentence to make them easier to read. Some examples of this are:
- Watching bears catch salmon that are jumping up a river–fascinating during spawning season–is a great way to observe Mother Nature.
- The repair man–hopefully a good one this time–is supposed to arrive by noon.
To show scores or directions
En dashes are often used to show scores or directions. This would look like:
- The Miami Heat beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 101–99.
- The east–west walking trail has a lot of unusual scenery.
To write complex compound adjectives
When writing open compound adjectives, you would use an en dash to clarify what you're saying. Some examples of this are:
- My country French–style dining room set looks great with this decor.
- My father collects World War I–era maps and toy soldiers and displays them in his office.
Difference between an en dash vs. em dash
When writing, it's important to know the differences between em dashes and en dashes to ensure your messages come across correctly. The main differences between the two are in their usage and appearance.
The en dash is shorter than the em dash. They are named after the letters N and M because the length of the dash is the same as the letters indicated for each one.
The longer em dash is often used to replace several types of punctuation, including parentheses, commas, semi-colons, and colons. The em dash is a way to add separation, emphasis, and flair to writing. It's used to give readers a physical cue that the information following is something to pay attention to.
On the other hand, the en dash is typically used to indicate ranges or replace the word "to" in a sentence.