Hyphen (-)
hyphen is a punctuation mark in the form of a dash. It is used to join two or more words to form compound words, most common of which are compound nouns.

Hyphen forming compound words 


  • Many tourists visit the open-air market at the weekends.
  • At least a thousand people attended the political fund-raising dinner.
  • There is a fast-flowing stream in the valley below.


Hyphen are often used in fractions and compound numbers from twenty-one to ninety-nine.


  • Rent costs almost two-thirds of his paycheck.
  • She once drove in the opposite direction in a one-way street.
  • A four-lane highway is built to connect the two cities.
  • Construction of a twenty-storey building is underway in the city centre.


Hyphens are used to separate prefixes from words


  • She is still trying to get back all the money she lent to her ex-husband.
  • Scores of anti-war protesters gathered to disrupt his speech.
  • Can I write you a post-dated cheque?


Hyphen is used for a word break at the end of a line
The newspaper reported that the town was hit by a torna-
do last evening.

Hyphens used to avoid confusion


  • The new owner has decided to re-form the club.
    (Without the hyphen, the word reform has got a different meaning.)
  • They are going to re-mark the papers due to the record high number of passes.
    (Without the hyphen, the word remark has got a different meaning.)



Dash (–)
A dash is double the length of a hyphen.

A dash is sometimes used instead of a colon or a semi-colon.


  • "Quick! Go now – the police are coming for you!"
  • Do we have all the things – the rods, plastic worms, extra hooks, net, knife, first-aid kit, and what else?


When dashes are used in a sentence, commas are not used to separate interrupting phrases. 


  • No: She looked at the dresses, -- a few of them, -- deciding on the one she should buy.
  • Yes: She looked at the dresses -- a few of them -- deciding on the one she should buy.


A dash used to show a sudden deviation or emphasis.


  • I met Tom – you know, the guy I introduced you last week––to ask if he would join us for a drinking session this evening.
  • I saw a snake – I mean a really big one – swallowing a big rodent.