Difference Between Dash and Hyphen

Main Difference – Dash vs. Hyphen

Dash and Hyphen are two punctuation marks that take the form of a small horizontal line. So, many people do not bother to pay attention to their correct usage. However, it is very important to understand the difference between dash and hyphen, if you want to use the language correctly. The main difference between these two punctuation marks is, the dash indicates an interruption, a pause or an afterthought while hyphen joins two or more words.

What is a Dash

Dash is a small, horizontal line. (—) Dash is used to separate a sentence where there is an interruption that disrupts the flow. It introduces a pause or an afterthought.

Marie doesn’t like to work with Ashton – or so she says.

She began to describe the incident, “I was just getting out of the car when he –” when her phone rang.

In informal usage, dashes are also used as substitutes for colons, semicolons or commas.

One thing’s for sure – he is scared of me.

Only one person can help you now – Mr. Adams

They can also be used as substitutes for parenthesis. Here they mark off information or ideas that are not essential to understand the rest of the sentence.

He is the best for this job –  he has 20 years of experience – but I’m not sure whether he would accept this job.

There are two types of dashes namely, em dash and en dash. The Em dash is the longer version of the dash and it is the same length as the letter m. En dash is the shorter version of the dash and is the same length as the letter n. The Em dash is considered to be  the double length of en dash and is sometimes is known as the double dash. The en dash should always have a spacing before and after while the em dash should never have a spacing before or after. Look at the following examples to understand this concept better.

She doesn’t love him – or so she says.→ En dash

She doesn’t love him—or so she says.→ Em dash

difference between dash and hyphen

What is a Hyphen

Hyphen is a small bar that is used to connect two or more words. (-) Hyphens are generally used to indicate a compound word. For example, words like over-the-counter, merry-go-around, daughter-in-law, sugar-free, up-to-date etc. use hyphens. It is important to notice that spaces should not be used before or after a hyphen.

We also use hyphens  when we are talking about numbers.

The temperature is 30-32 degrees.

He was seventy-six years old.

Main Difference - Dash vs Hyphen


Difference Between Dash and Hyphen


Dash: Dash is written as – or —

Hyphen: Hyphen is written as –


Dash: There are two types of dashes: em dash and en dash

Hyphen: There is only one type of hyphen

Use of Spaces

Dash: Spaces are used before or after an en dash. But spaces should not be used before or after an em dash.

Hyphen: Spaces should not be used before or after a hyphen.


Dash: Dash is used to indicate a pause or an afterthought in speech.

Hyphen: Hyphen is used to join two or more words.

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