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Em Dash

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FC: AP Language & Composition | TECHNOLOGY SCRAPBOOK | Kitty Hennessy | Em Dash

1: @>—— The Rose | Despite the em dash's convenient likeness to rose stems, this is not its proper purpose in the realm of punctuation. | Emoticons

3: CORRECT | This em dash was used in the comment section of a humorous website, so it reflects the casual tone of the writing. The em dash adds that sense of slight hesitation before a surprising punchline, which is what the writer was going for.

4: Correct | "Frozen Fruit—and even canned—can often fit the bill" (HIllson 50). | The sentence surrounding the aside is grammatically sound, and could stand without the information between the em dashes. Furthermore, the em dashes are appropriately employed because the word "even" indicates that the information is unsuspected and surprising, so the author wants to highlight it with em dashes. | Hillson, Beth. "Fruit-Full Homecoming." Living Without. 1 Aug. 2012: 50. Print.

5: INCORRECT | "Incorrect: The temperature that week was -3--7 degrees" (Writer's Block 1). The dash between the 3 and the 7 is an em dash(--), which is the width of the letter "m" and is used for distinguishing phrases or sentences. To indicate a range, such as above, the slightly smaller en dash( – ) is used. | "Writer's Block - Writing Tips - Dashes." Writer's Block - The Web Resource for Communication Professionals. NIVA Inc., 1 Jan. 2009. Web. 6 Aug. 2012.

6: "American officials say that they also are worried about efforts by the Taliban—and, they assume, the government of Pakistan—to subvert the Afghan military from within" (Filkins 60). | The interrupting information has commas within it, so it should be framed by either parentheses or em dashes. Parentheses are for more subtle asides, whereas em dashes note the importance of the aside so that it stands out more prominently than parentheses indicate. | CORRECT | Filkins, Dexter. "After America." The New Yorker. 9 July 2012: 60. Print.

7: This em dash takes the place of a colon when there is no need to do so. The list is not an interruption to the original thought; the em dash is not properly used. | “I’ve run out of three things—margarine, flour, and brown sugar” (Godfred 1). Godfred, Melody. "How to Use A Dash – The Grammatical Weapon of Choice ." Write In Color . Wordpress, 5 Apr. 2012. Web. 6 Aug. 2012.

8: CORRECT | "Not just to love—but to persist in love" (Kidd 289). | The em dash draws attention to the second half of the sentence, so that the elucidation does not go unnoticed. The em dash also notes the way in which the dialog was spoken, with a pause more dramatic than a comma. | Kidd, Sue Monk. "Chapter Thirteen." The Secret Life of Bees. New York: Viking, 2002. 289. Print.

9: "...when qualities of the kind that Keisha Blake possessed— cleverness, will to power—became 'their own reward,' and that this remained true even if the people in literature and the movies looked nothing like you, came from a different socioeconomic and historical universe, and— had they ever met you— would very likely have enslaved you" (Smith 61). | Smith, Zadie. "Permission To Enter." The New Yorker 30 July 2012: 61. Print. | Using more than a pair of em dashes in a sentence can get confusing for readers and breaks up the flow of the sentence. Other bracketing marks should be utilized in place of a second pair of dashes.

10: WELL DONE! AMAZING! GREAT JOB! | "The convergence of global warming, global flattening, and global crowding is driving those five big problems—energy supply and demand, petrodictatorship, climate change, energy poverty, and biodiversity loss—well past their tipping points into new realms we've never seen before" (Friedman 37). | CORRECT! | The sentence that surrounds the pair of em dash is grammatically sound. The em dashes replace a traditional colon that precedes a list, but were rightfully chosen in order to end the list and continue the the original sentence. | Friedman, Thomas L.. "Today's Date: 1 E.C.E. Today's Weather: Hot, Flat, and Crowded." Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why we need a green revolution-- and how it can renew America. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008. 37. Print.

11: This sentence deserves a semicolon rather than a dash. The second clause is not interrupting the first, nor does it need any additional emphasis. | “The vaccinations are necessary—they will prevent yellow fever" (Sebastian 1). | Sebastian, Michael . "Writers beware: Em dashes are overused and misunderstood | Articles | Home ." PR Daily News: Public Relations news and marketing in the age of social media | Home . PR Daily, 25 Jan. 2011. Web. 9 Aug. 2012.

12: CORRECT | "The clanking on the other side of the door was growing deafening — it was too late — 'There!' " (Rowling 540). | J.K. Rowling used em dashes perfectly to enhance the growing sense of suspense and quick movement of the plot and scene. The interruption reflects and supports the quick thinking of the characters and readers. | Rowling, J. K.. "Gringotts." Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. New York, NY: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007. 540. Print.

13: INCORRECT | "In my life this means not only being on the board... and raising awareness—and even money—from my own clients for international wildlife conservation and protection" (Attas 19). | Attas, Amy . "Remarks of Amy I. Attas, V.M.D., '87." Bellwether: The Magazine of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine 1 June 2012: 19. Print. | The sentence that surrounds the bracketed information must make a grammatically correct sentence when it stands alone. "Raising awareness from my own clients" does not make sense; the sentence should be rearranged.

14: Picoult, Jodi. "Chapter Two: Campbell." My Sister's Keeper. New York: Atria, 2004. 26. Print. | RIGHT! | "There will be a hearing, and the judge will appoint a guardian ad litem, which is—' '—a person trained to work with kids in the family court, who determines what's in the child's best interests" (Picoult 26). | The em dashes here indicates that one character has interrupted another. This dialog is from a fiction novel, so the em dashes are used informally.

15: Larkin, Malinda. "Bright, dark spots in profession outlined in NRC report." JAVMA: Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 15 July 2012: 155-156. Print. | Although each of the em dashes used in this sentence are used correctly, together they create a confusing and discontinuous sentence. Em dashes should be used sparingly, and should not be used multiple times per sentence, especially in academic writing such as this article. | WRONG | "And, although the median salary for food animal—exclusive veterinarians is higher than median salaries for veterinarians in other areas of private practice—$103,000 in 2009—the number of veterinarians in this field has started to decline" (Larkin 155-156).

16: Verducci, Tom. "Kid Dynamite." Sports Illustrated 27 Aug. 2012: 34-36. Print. | "Trout is 6'1" and 210 pounds and runs home to first as fast as any right-handed hitter in memory—he was once clocked on a bunt at an absurdly fast 3.53 seconds" (Verducci 34). | This em dash replaces a semicolon, and makes the flow of the sentence seem much more natural, as if the example of Trout's speed was an impromptu add-on. It also seems to fit the much more casual style of this sports article. | CORRECT

17: There is no need to use an em dash here, when a colon will do the job perfectly. Em dashes should be consciously chosen, with a reason in mind for its employment. | This year the Cougars made it all the way to the state championships! | "First Stop — India" (Hendricks 9). | Hendricks, Joan C.. "Protecting Humankind: Making a Global One Health Impact." Bellwether: The Magazine of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine 1 June 2012: 9. Print.

18: "SEOUL, South Korea — The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, has visited soldiers stationed near the two Koreas' disputed sea border" (Sang-hun A6). | Although the location of the topic in newspaper articles isn't technically an interruption or aside, it has become common practice to use an em dash in these cases. The em dash is often used to separate important information for readers, without complete sentences. | photography | Sang-hun, Choe. "North Korea's Kim visits soldiers in border region." The Philadelphia Inquirer 19 Aug. 2012, sec. Nation & World: A6. Print. | RIGHT ANSWER!

19: Liberman, Si. "Captivated by New Orleans, its looks and spirit as good as new." The Inquirer [Philadelphia] 12 Aug. 2012, sec. Travel: N5. Print. | In some cases, em dashes can replace a colon to indicate a list. This only works if the ensuing list is meant to catch the reader's attention, or comes as a surprise. This list is a pretty mundane explanation, and therefore a colon should be used in place of the em dash. | "...and a platter called Veal Wohl ($34.95) that included three of Arnaud's specialties — veal, crab cake, and crawfish" (Liberman N5).

20: EM DASHES ONLINE! | THis em dash was found online, where it could be used informally. It is used here to indicate some surprising news that is linked to the beginning of the sentence. | right!

21: WRONG! Em dashes can add excitement and a sense of natural movement to text, but when they are overused, such as in this article, it can make the writing seem choppy. They are also not appropriate to use excessively in formal writing. | Smith, Zadie. "Permission To Enter." The New Yorker 30 July 2012: 65. Print.

26: This year we were all about: colorful, bright tops | Chuck Taylor All Stars-- classic and low-top!

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  • Title: Em Dash
  • AP English and Literature Summer Assignment
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  • Published: over 5 years ago