IELTS, TOEFL & TOEIC writing: Hyphens and dashes, how are they used?
Hyphens and dashesHyphens and dashes are the short line "-" that can be used to divide a word at the end of a line (hyphen), connect the words of a compound word (hyphen) or set aside a part of a sentence (dash).
First, hyphens can be used at the end of a line when a word needs to be broken in order to keep the line neat. Use a dictionary to determine the syllables of a word in order to divide it (but today most word processors divide a word correctly). An example might be, at the end of a line, "super- natural" or "extra-ordinary".
Also, hyphens are used in compound words. Common family words, such as "sister-in-law" or "mother-in-law" are compound words that need a hyphen to link the words. Another example is "year-old" when it is used as an adjective. The ten-year-old boy is playing in the yard.
Notice that in both cases, there is no space between the words and the hyphen.
When a dash is used in a sentence, it establishes a separate idea or emphasizes an idea. Examples: "The man - cold, tired, weak - went into the first hotel he found.", or, "A dog who is barking might seem menacing - but it isn't likely to bite."
Notice that there is a space before and after the dash. It is good to recognize the usage of dashes in writing, but be careful about using them in your own writing. Over-emphasizing (notice the hyphen) using dashes is a sign or poor writing, while correctly using hyphens shows a good knowledge of English spelling.
The farming co-operative has decided to ban the usage of pesticides on members' fields.
The government has announced that it will be conducting an in-depth study on military abuses.
The Prime Minister has commissioned a bi-partisan committee - requested by the opposition - to investigate the Tax Ministry.
The new multi-level, high-speed magnetic levitation train is going to link the country's major cities.
A report on immigration - sponsored by a noted anti-immigration group - has shown a link between immigration and crime.
While the drug seemed promising when tested on mice, its real-life applications on humans are extremely limited.