The long dash or also known as the dash (-) is a punctuation mark in spelling that has several uses, the most common being that of an indicator of dialogue or parliaments of the different characters in a text. It is also used as an indicator of clarification in the middle of a text, in a similar way to parentheses ().The long dash or dash is different from other punctuation marks in that its length is larger than the minus sign (-) and larger than the dash (-).

In grammar, the line has many uses , but the most common are at the beginning of the dialogues between the characters in a text , indicating in the text the dialogues that the characters have between them, helping to separate the dialogues that correspond to each character. This without the need to put the name of each character to the phrase he says.

For instance:

– How many kilos is the boss going to carry?
– Today I will only take two.
– Very good ma’am.

– I can go to the party? – Mariana sadly asked her mother.

The long dash is also used to separate an interleaved phrase in the middle of another phrase , this is to help clarify something. It is used in a similar way to parentheses, but it does not replace them but is often used to insert a phrase that may not be closely related to the rest of the text, for example to clarify the origin of something or to indicate when the narrator or the characters they think. When the long dash is used to separate one sentence in the middle of another, a long dash is used at the beginning and end of the interleaved phrase, as with parentheses.

For instance:

Before the main altar of the metropolitan cathedral – “One of the buildings with the most secrets and passageways in the City,” according to archaeologist Benítez y Fuentes – the bishop gave his sermon to the faithful.

I will never see my daughter again, Yolanda thought, now her father and I will be alone.

Pedro esteems his mother-in-law — a good woman — to such a degree that he regards her as a mother.

What do we use the long dash or dash for?

The long dash or dash serves among other things to:

  • Indicate the dialogue or the intervention of characters in a text.
  • Differentiate the dialogues between characters without indicating which one belongs to which.
  • Insert an explanatory text.
  • Insert a text or quote whose relationship does not seem direct to the rest of the text.
  • Insert a new clarification in a text that is already in parentheses.
  • Insert clarifications that interrupt the text and then continue it.
  • Introduce the different elements of relation or list.
  • Indicate the dialogue of each character in a play or script.

The long dash serves to indicate the dialogue or the intervention of characters:

The long script is widely used in stories, novels and narrative texts where the characters dialogue with each other. The long dash is used to indicate to the reader when a character says his dialogue. To indicate the dialogue, two long dashes are used, one at the beginning of the sentence and one at the end as a closing.

When in a text the narrator intervenes in the character’s speech, either to clarify or for some other reason, a single long dash is used to indicate when the narrator’s intervention begins, and no closing long dash is used.

For instance:

“This moonlight night the ritual will be done,” said the witch with a terrifying voice.
Unless after the narrator’s intervention the character continues to speak.
“We have waited centuries tonight,” the witch said to the crowd. Today we will end the lineage of the king.

The long dash is used to insert citations, clarify issues, and enclose subsections:

The long dash is also widely used to insert clarifications or quotes that interrupt a speech, but that are related to what is spoken.

For instance:

King Henry the Eighth throughout his life married six women — all were executed by his own orders — seeking a male heir to succeed him on the throne.

The long dash can also be used within a sentence in parentheses, to add another clarification or detail that is within the parentheses.

For instance:

To learn more about the story of the blind king (the complete graphic novel – not available in Spanish – explains everything) you will have to be patient.

The long dash is used to indicate the dialogue of characters, indicate the dialogue of each character:

The long dash is very useful to indicate when a character speaks in a text, that way we can know when it is the character and not the narrator who is speaking. It also helps us to identify which character each dialogue belongs to, without the need to put the name of each character before us.

For instance:

– Are you going to the concert of the pink vampires?
—No, it’s a very pouser and mainstream band

It is also widely used in film, television and theater scripts, where the scripts separate the interventions of each character, helping the actor to learn his character better.

For instance:

Mariano – Divorce gave me back my freedom!
Priscila – But you never married or did you?
Mariano —No, but as a divorce lawyer I paid my bail with that

The long dash in alphabetical indexes, lists, and to indicate something previously mentioned:

The long dash is also used for some lists, indexes, and for listing things. Especially in bibliographies, in lists of related things or to indicate when a name or something previously named is omitted in a text.

For instance:

Cold colors

– Blue

JRR Tolkien .: “The Lord of the Rings” (1920-1955).

-: “The Hobbit” (1920 to 1930).
-: “The Lord of the Rings” (1954).
-: “The two towers” (1954)
-: “The return of the king” (1955)


Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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