The Dash

• Use a dash to mark a sudden break, an abrupt change in thought, or other parenthetical material for special emphasis. A dash is the same as two hyphens (--). Do not put a space before or after a dash.

His answer--and I'm not exaggerating--convulsed the class with laughter.

• Use dashes to set off appositives that contain commas.

Dump Cake--a dessert made from cake mix, oil, water, eggs, pudding mix, sour cream, and chocolate chips--is a favorite treat for family gatherings.

• Use a dash to prepare for a list, a restatement, or an exaggerated shift in tone.

Jason stepped forward, took a mighty swing with the bat--and missed the ball.

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