What is a Dash?
A dash is type of punctuation mark used in sentences and phrases. It looks similar to a hyphen but is usually written a little “longer”. It could be used to break a particular thought in a sentence, to signify number ranges, or to present a connection between two different things.
Unknown to some people, there are actually different types of dashes. One type is called the “figure dash”, which is named so because its width is the same as any number or letter. This type of dash could be used in expressing numbers that do not indicate a particular range.
Another type is the “en dash” which also called the “n-rule”. This is probably the most common type of dash known to people because of the variety of its uses. This type of dash is typically used in number ranges. Examples of its use are in expressing date ranges like “January-September 2010”, or in telling the time like “4:00-6:00 AM”. It could also be applied in writing specific number ranges like “pages 1-15” or “aged 20-24”. The en dash is also used to present contrasting values and/or present two connected things. So when a particular basketball game score says Team A beat Team B 100-80, it expresses the idea that the numbers indicated are not in a range but rather a comparative expression of the scores between the two teams.
The “em dash” meanwhile is written longer than the en dash and is intended for breaking a particular thought in a sentence. A classic example of its usage is when somebody describes a particular thing and in the middle of his/her sentence there is an interruption of thought or perhaps an additional comment was made.
English rules specifically indicate the purpose of using dashes in sentences. It is up to the individual if he/she is mindful enough to be careful with his/her punctuation mark usage.