How do you use em dashes? Test yourself!

Em dash suricata

Written by Lucy Williams

Spanish-to-English translator and translator trainer

Puzzled by punctuation? There can be a lot to learn. Are you happy enough with hyphens and cool with commas but dazzled by dashes?

And it’s not just dashes but different types of dashes. For a start, em dashes (written without a hyphen). What are they anyway? Don’t be put off by their strange name, if you know how to use them properly, they can be the most “dashing” of punctuation marks. They help the reader separate the main point from asides, signposting them through the text. But you need to know how to use them properly. You don’t want your text to be dashed in all the wrong kinds of ways.

Try this quiz on em dashes to test your knowledge!

True or false?

1. The em dash can function like a comma, a colon or parentheses⁠.

2. The em dash is a much less formal equivalent of the colon and parenthesis.

3. There should be no spaces around em dashes.

4. If an em dash appears where a comma could also appear, the comma should be left out.

5. A pair of dashes can be used to set off extra information when the break in continuity is more than would be shown by a comma, or when the dash would clarify the sentence structure better than a comma.

Scroll down to check your answers

Em dash quiz answers

1. True.

2. False. It’s considered a little less formal.

3. False. Spacing requirements around an em dash vary depending on the style guide. Most newspapers insert a space before and after the dash, but most books and journals do not use spaces around em dashes.

4. True.

5. True.

Dazzled by dashes? Em dashes needn’t be hard. Test your skills with this quiz! Click To Tweet

If this quiz has piqued your interest and you want to learn more about punctuation, sign up for our newsletter in the column to the right. If you’re looking to improve your translation and writing skills, why not ask us for more information about our translator training courses? Start your journey to punctuation proficiency today!

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