Hyphen vs Dash: Difference and Comparison

Every language has its standard grammar rules to make it more complicated and understandable. Writing a specific language involves many other factors, such as punctuation marks. Punctuation marks are used to make the sentence more clear and more understandable. Some of the commonly used punctuation marks are hyphens and dashes, although people tend not to differentiate between them, they’re very different from each other.  

Key Takeaways

  1. Hyphens connect words or parts of words, while dashes indicate a range or pause in sentences.
  2. Hyphens are shorter than dashes, with en dashes and em dashes being the two types of dashes.
  3. Use hyphens to create compound words and dashes to emphasize or separate phrases.

Hyphen vs Dash 

A hyphen (-) is a punctuation mark that connects words or parts of words, indicating that they belong together and should be considered a single unit. A dash (–) is a longer punctuation mark used to separate and emphasize parts of a sentence or to indicate a break in thought or dialogue.

Hyphen vs Dash

A hyphen is a much shorter horizontal dash than a dash. Besides, it is used to join words or parts of words. Sometimes, it is also called em-dash, although it is a long parenthesis. Moreover, it has the same length as the ‘m’ letter in the typewriter. To conclude, the hyphen is used to represent compound numbers, compound nouns, compound modifiers, and unfinished words.

A dash is a much longer horizontal dash than a hyphen. It is used to signify a range or pause. Sometimes, it is called an en-dash. Besides, it has the same length as the letter ‘n’ in the typewriter. Lastly, the dash is used in these cases to separate ranges of numbers, the combination of related nouns or directional adjectives, and create complex compound adjectives.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of comparison Hyphen Dash 
LengthHyphen has a shorter horizontal dash.Dash has a longer horizontal dash. 
Function The hyphen joins words or parts of words.Dash represents a range or a pause. 
Called Sometimes, Hyphen is called em-dash. The dash is called an en-dash.
Length similar in typewriterThe hyphen has the same length as the ‘m’ letter in the typewriter.The dash has the same length as to ‘n’ letter in the typewriter. 
Used Hyphen is used in such cases compound numbers, compound nouns, compound modifiers, and unfinished words.Dash is used in such cases to separate ranges of numbers, the combination of related nouns, or directional adjectives, and create complex compound adjectives.

What is Hyphen? 

A hyphen is a punctuation mark that is used for joining words or parts of words. It is shorter than a dash. It is sometimes compared to em-dash due to their shared similarities. 

A pause or stop is used while talking. Likewise, a set of symbols is used to indicate a halt or stop in a sentence. These have a primary goal: making it more understandable and clear to the respective.

Hyphen is one such symbol used as punctuation to express a pause in compound words. And it includes dual heritages. 

Understanding the difference between a dash and a hyphen may be a little tricky. As people often mistake hyphens as a dash or vice-versa. However, an editor or a writer knows the emphasis of such punctuation marks in writing. 

Although, the use of hyphens can change according to specific cases, such as compound numbers, compound nouns, compound modifiers, and unfinished words. 

A hyphen is used in compound numbers composed of two digits and fits in long numbers. Besides, many compound nouns have a hyphen for connecting a word to a noun. But, Not all nouns have hyphens. 

Quite modifiers also contain hyphens, such as “best-in-class”, etc. However, a hyphen is not used where a modifier comes after nouns. Additionally, A compound adjective with an adverb as a first word doesn’t have a hyphen. 

Hyphen is also used to indicate unfinished words in formatting books, magazines, and handwritten letters. In this context, it symbolizes the rest of the sentence on the following page or line.

hyphen

What is Dash? 

A Dash is a long horizontal punctuation mark that is used to indicate a pause or a range. It is similar to an em-dash. 

A punctuation mark is essential for writing as it depicts a pause or stop. While usually, halting can be done during conversing. Therefore, punctuation symbols are used to make writing more apparent and understandable. 

Dash has a variety of uses, unlike a hyphen. A hyphen is generally used to make compound words.

The two types of dashes are en-dash and em-dash. En-dash is also called N-dash as it is as wide as the letter N. While, Em-dash is also called M-dash as it is as wide as the uppercase letter M. 

Moreover, the dash separates ranges of numbers, combines related nouns or directional adjectives, and creates compound adjectives. While using a range of numbers, a dash is used, such as “class runs from 4-6 pm”. 

Besides, An en-dash is preferred over a hyphen with respect to stylistic preference rather than a rule. It is used to combine related nouns or directional adjectives, such as “East-West Highway”. 

Even the use of an en dash to compose complex compound adjectives over a hyphen is preferred. It is not a rule to use an en dash in this context. 

dash

Main Differences Hyphen and Dash

The punctuation mark is an essential part of the grammatical rules in English. However, people often tend to misunderstand the difference between a hyphen and a dash. However, a professional knows how to use and when to use these punctuation marks. One of the common punctuation marks is a hyphen and dash, although they’re very different from telling them apart. Yet, they are very different from each other. 

  1. Hyphen has a shorter horizontal dash, while Dash has a longer horizontal dash. 
  2. The hyphen joins words or parts of words. Meanwhile, Dash represents a range or a pause.
  3. The hyphen is called an em-dash, while the dash is called an en-dash. 
  4. The hyphen has the same length as the ‘m’ letter in the typewriter, while the dash has the same length as to ‘n’ letter in the typewriter. 
  5. The hyphen is used in such cases as compound numbers, compound nouns, compound modifiers, and unfinished words. Meanwhile, Dash is used in such cases to separate ranges of numbers, the combination of related nouns or directional adjectives, and create complex compound adjectives. 
Difference Between Hyphen and Dash
References
  1. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.7208/9780226191294-092/html
  2. http://tailieudientu.lrc.tnu.edu.vn/Upload/Collection/brief/Brief_60835_20180717085700_20180514161823-Englishskillswithreadings.pd
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