Em Dash Examples

May be this punctuation term is new for you and you never heard about “Em Dash” before. The following content and examples will help you to understand the usage and purposes of Em Dash. Basically the hyphens, en dash, and em dash are three different types of dashes that are used in writing English content. Em dash is longest among all these dashes and its width is almost same as the width of English alphabet M.

Em dash is also known as m-dash or m-rule. It is most probably seem in a sentence when there is a break in conversation or sentence. Em dashes are used in place of commas, parentheses, colons and semicolons. It is mostly used where emphasize on some words is needed in a sentence. Em dashes are also used to show interruption and mind changing states. The sentences that includes em dashes are more eye-catching and understandable by readers.

Key Points:

  • Em dashes are mostly used for informal writings such as letters, email, and journals.
  • Avoid the usage of em dashes in formal writing such as research papers, business letters, and articles. Preferably use semicolons, colons, commas, and parentheses in formal writings.
  • The use of space is not recommended before and after em dash

Shortcuts to Type Em Dash on Keyboard

If you are using Microsoft word, and type two single dashes next to each other then they automatically combine to make em dash.

However in other platforms such as WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram they do not combine or typed automatically, you need to copy paste it from Microsoft word document or use some shortcut keys such as “Alt + Shift + Dash”

Following are some examples of using em dash instead of semicolons, colons, commas, and parentheses.

Using Em Dash Instead of Commas:

Use of Comma: Please call my family doctor, Mr. Richard, to check my father.

Use of Em Dash: Please call my family doctor—Mr. Richard—to check my father.

Use of Comma: I personally talk to Mr. Johnson, my daughter’s English teacher, at the college on Monday.

Use of Em Dash: I personally talk to Mr. Johnson—my daughter’s English teacher—at the college on Monday.

Use of Comma: I went to my personal trainer, Mr. Cathy, for getting diet and exercise plan.

Use of Em Dash: I went to my personal trainer—Mr. Cathy—for getting diet and exercise plan.

Use of Comma: My daughter, where has she gone? would love to meet you.

Use of Em Dash: My daughter — where has she gone? —would love to meet you.

Using Em Dash Instead of Colons:

Use of Colons: My mother needs five things at the market: bread, milk, eggs, sugar,    and flour.

Use of Em Dash: My mother needs five things at the market—bread, milk, eggs, sugar,    and flour.

Use of Colons: I love three subjects: Math, English, and Physics.

Use of Em Dash: I love three subjects—Math, English, and Physics.

Use of Colons: I love eating five Chinese foods: fried rice, noodles, spaghettis, pasta, and sliced chicken.

Use of Em Dash:  I love eating five Chinese foods—fried rice, noodles, spaghettis, pasta, and sliced chicken.

Use of Colons: I have a collection of latest accessories: watches, ear pieces, wrist straps, and neckless.

Use of Em Dash:  I have a collection of latest accessories — watches, ear pieces, wrist straps, and neckless.

Using Em Dash Instead of Parentheses:

Use of Parentheses: I meet Miss. Alicia (my personal lawyer) to discuss some legal issues.

Use of Em Dash: I meet Miss. Alicia—my personal lawyer—to discuss some legal issues.

Use of Parentheses: I just hate Parker (my close friend) because he broke my favorite coffee mug.

Use of Em Dash: I just hate Parker—my close friend—because he broke my favorite coffee mug.

Use of Parentheses: The hardware parts of my computer (keyboard, mouse, printer, and speaker) are not working properly.

Use of Em Dash:  The hardware parts of my computer—keyboard, mouse, printer, and speaker—are not working properly.

Use of Parentheses: Thousands of kids (like the boy in this picture) have been homeless due to storm.

Use of Em Dash:  Thousands of kids—like the boy in this picture—have been homeless due to storm.

Using Em Dash Instead of Semi Colons:

Use of Semi Colons: My sister like ice cream; my bother like chocolates.

Use of Em Dash: My sister like ice cream—my bother like chocolates.

Use of Semi Colons: Jorge got an “A” in his English test; therefore, he got a trophy.

Use of Em Dash: Jorge got an “A” in his English test—therefore, he got a trophy.

Use of Semi Colons: The rules of cleaning this house are simple; just follow some basic guidelines.

Use of Em Dash: The rules of cleaning this house are simple—just follow some basic guidelines.

Use of Semi Colons: Things have been changed from past few years; may be for better cause.

Use of Em Dash: Things have been changed from past few years — may be for better cause.

Using Em Dash for Sudden Mind Changing State:

Formally Writing: I was thinking to buy a, oh! Excuse me what did you say to me?

Use of Em Dash: I was thinking to buy a—oh! Excuse me what did you say to me?

Formally Writing: I enjoyed a lot in a park: what you said to me to buy for you?

Use of Em Dash: I enjoyed a lot in a park—what you said to me to buy for you?

Formally Writing: Alex, I seriously don’t know why you, Stop Stephen, I will add hot sauce in noodles if I like it.

Use of Em Dash: Alex, I seriously don’t know why you—Stop it Stephen, I will add hot sauce in noodles if I like it.

Formally Writing: I want to clarify some points, Jack you are not listening to me carefully.

Use of Em Dash: I want to clarify some points—Jack you are not listening to me carefully.