Why Do People Put A Dash After A Sentence?

Emily Thomas

Have you ever noticed that sometimes people use a dash after a sentence? You may have wondered why they do this and what purpose it serves. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this grammatical choice and shed light on why people choose to put a dash after a sentence.

Why Do People Put A Dash After A Sentence?

Understanding the Use of a Dash in Writing

When it comes to writing, punctuation plays a crucial role in conveying meaning and enhancing clarity. One such punctuation mark that often perplexes writers is the dash. Dashes are used to add emphasis, indicate interruption, or provide additional information within a sentence. By understanding the different types of dashes, guidelines for their usage, and common reasons for using them, you can effectively incorporate dashes into your writing and elevate your overall communication skills.

Different Types of Dashes

There are two main types of dashes: the en dash and the em dash. While their appearance may seem similar, they serve distinct purposes.

En Dash

The en dash represents a range or connection between two things, often numbers or dates. It is slightly longer than a hyphen but shorter than the em dash. The en dash is named after the width of a capital “N” in metal type.

Em Dash

The em dash, also known as a long dash or mutton dash, is the punctuation mark that frequently comes to mind when we think of a dash. It is roughly the width of a capital “M” in metal type, hence its name. Em dashes are used to set off parenthetical phrases, add emphasis, or show interruption in a sentence.

Why Do People Put A Dash After A Sentence?

En Dash

Purpose and Usage

The primary purpose of the en dash is to indicate a range or connection between two things. It is commonly used in contexts such as:

  • Time ranges: 9:00 am–5:00 pm
  • Page ranges: pages 25–30
  • Connections or relationships: the New York–London flight


  1. The event will take place from July 10–14.
  2. The train is scheduled to arrive at 3:00 am–6:00 am.
  3. The riverside walk is only open from dusk–dawn.

Em Dash

Purpose and Usage

The em dash has a wide range of uses, making it a versatile punctuation mark in writing. Its primary purposes include:

  • Setting off parenthetical phrases: She was determined—he could see it in her eyes—to succeed.
  • Adding emphasis: I have tried talking to her, pleading with her, but she refuses to listen.
  • Showing interruption: The meeting started on time—despite the heavy traffic—thanks to their diligence.


  1. The CEO—the mastermind behind the company’s success—announced his retirement.
  2. The storm proved to be disastrous—flooding streets, interrupting power, and causing significant damage.
  3. She had been running late—thankfully, she caught the last train just in time.

Guidelines for Using Dashes

While dashes can be a valuable tool in writing, it is important to follow certain guidelines to ensure their proper usage. Here are some essential guidelines to consider when incorporating dashes into your writing.

Using a Dash instead of Other Punctuation Marks

Dashes can often serve as a stylistic choice where other punctuation marks might traditionally be used. For example:

  • Replacing parentheses: The dog—the one with the long tail—seemed friendly.
  • Replacing commas: The sun was shining brightly—casting a warm glow on the lake.
  • Replacing colons: There is one thing you need to remember—the key to success is perseverance.

Maintaining Consistency

Consistency is key in effective writing. If you choose to use dashes, it is important to maintain consistency throughout your piece. This ensures a cohesive and professional appearance. Avoid switching between dashes, parentheses, or other punctuation marks unnecessarily.

Avoiding Overuse of Dashes

While dashes can add flair to your writing, it is crucial to use them sparingly. Overusing dashes can distract the reader and diminish their impact. Consider other punctuation options such as commas, parentheses, or colons, depending on the specific context and tone of your writing.

Correct Placement of Dashes

Understanding where to place dashes correctly is essential to ensure clarity and effective communication. Here are two common scenarios for dash placement:

  • Interrupting text: She was about to reveal the secret—wait, did she just change the subject?
  • Emphasizing additional information: The movie—the one you recommended—was fantastic.

Common Reasons for Putting a Dash after a Sentence

Now that you understand the different types of dashes and guidelines for their usage, let’s delve into the common reasons for putting a dash after a sentence. By incorporating dashes in these situations, you can enhance your writing and effectively convey your intended message.

Conveying a Sudden Change in Thought

Dashes can be an excellent tool for shifting focus or introducing a new idea within a sentence. They indicate a sudden change in thought or an unexpected twist in the narrative. By using a dash, you create a sense of surprise or anticipation in the reader.

Adding an Explanation or Clarification

Sometimes, after completing a sentence, you may realize the need to provide additional information or clarify a point. A dash can be used to smoothly integrate this extra detail, allowing your readers to gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter without interrupting the flow of your writing.

Inserting an Appositive Phrase

Appositive phrases provide extra information about a noun or pronoun. Using a dash after a sentence allows you to insert an appositive phrase without altering the sentence structure significantly. It provides a concise way to expand upon a subject while maintaining clarity and readability.

Creating Suspense or Anticipation

Dashes can be strategically placed at the end of a sentence to create suspense or engage readers’ curiosity. By trailing off before the completion of a thought, you leave your audience wanting more, encouraging them to continue reading and discover the answer to the implied question.

With a solid understanding of the different types of dashes, guidelines for their usage, and common scenarios where dashes can be employed, you are now equipped to incorporate dashes effectively into your writing. Remember to use them thoughtfully, maintain consistency, and adhere to the correct placement guidelines to enhance your overall communication skills and engage your readers. Embrace the dash as a powerful tool to elevate your writing and make a lasting impact on your audience.