Em Dash

In these cases, the semicolon helps readers hold track of the divisions between the items. The commonest use of the semicolon is to affix two independent clauses without using a conjunction like and. To mark “bonus phrases.” Phrases that add data or make clear but aren’t essential to the meaning of a sentence are ordinarily set off with commas. But when the phrase itself already incorporates one or more commas, dashes can help readers perceive the sentence. Beyond its looks, an en dash (–) is nothing like an em dash. It can denote a spread , join two items that go collectively (January four–February 1) or can be used to replace the phrases to, and, or versus.

If it is the latter, return the dashes to your punctuation software bag and use a comma, colon, or semicolon as an alternative, or revise the sentence to be able to omit the dreaded dash. The em dash is an incredibly versatile punctuation mark that can be used instead of parentheses, commas, colons, or citation marks in a sentence. The em sprint is perhaps the most versatile punctuation mark. Depending on the context, the em dash can take the place of commas, parentheses, or colons⁠—in each case to slightly different effect.

Tips On How To Use Semicolons In A Listing

As the last example demonstrates, conjunctive adverbs and transitional expressions are movable parts. Although they generally appear in front of thesubject, they might also show up later within the sentence. But no matter the place the transitional term makes its appearance, the semicolon belongs on the end of the first main clause.

  • They may also be used as a sort of “meta” parentheses when the content material between the dashes already incorporates parentheses.
  • For occasion, researchers seeking to publish in journals should read articles from the journals they are concentrating on to see which punctuation marks are used by most authors in that journal.
  • For this reason, many authors use colons to introduce their main argument or supporting proof.
  • Both elements of the sentence are impartial clauses, and commas shouldn’t be used to attach impartial clauses if there is no coordinating conjunction.

Dashes are thought of much less formal than parentheses; they are additionally extra intrusive. If you need to draw attention to the parenthetical content, use dashes. If you wish to embrace the parenthetical content material more subtly, use parentheses. In this instance, commas assist to separate town names from extra basic areas, and semicolons present which of the place names and locations are grouped collectively.


As such, the semicolon comes to the rescue to divide the lists, appearing as a comma, but allowing for greater group and clarity. A fast and useful check is to take away the colon and ask whether the sentence would nonetheless make sense. In the primary example above, the reply is yes, so the colon should go. But in the second example, removing the colon introduces confusion, so we need to maintain it. They can be used as a kind of “meta” parentheses when the content between the dashes already contains parentheses.

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