1. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Confused

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Marcelo, Aug 9, 2008.

    What is the ''--'' for? I have seen it has a similar function to the parenthesis, but I don't know. I'm confused because in dialogue (in the Spanish language) it is used when characters talk. For example:

    "No way!"

    -- No way!
     
  2. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    If it not broken, then I think you mean the either the en dash or the em dash. Both can be used to replace a set of commas. Gahh! Too many uses for me to remember, you can try to google both if they're what you're talking about. If its really "--" then i have no idea.
     
  3. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Not broken... I mean a single line like _ but in this position -- ... Lol, I'm confused as hell <_>
     
  4. draupnir
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    draupnir Member

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    Well I'm not sure how it should be used, so this post might not be too helpful!

    I use it to add things after there has been a break in continuity/to add things as an afterthought.

    eg. You wouldn't catch me doing that, my friend -- not in this lifetime.

    Also I sometimes use it in the middle of a sentence to add a thought/clarify something, almost in place of brackets, as a sort of stronger alternative to them

    eg. If you went down to the woods today -- and it is a lovely day for it -- then you'd be in for a big surprise.

    I just briefly looked it up and I think that sort of use is right. If you want to explore it, google "dash" "punctuation".

    P.S. The only book i've seen it used when characters talk is my copy of Ulysees.
     
  5. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Yep. those are dashes. Usually, em dashes are used like draupnir said.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    in some non-english-speaking countries, " " are not used for dialog... in spain, the em dash seems to take their place, as in france, << >> does the job...
     
  7. Marcelo
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    Marcelo Contributing Member

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    Exactly maia, and since I live in Mexico, I was confused over the dashes' function. But I grasped the idea, thanks to you all. :)
     
  8. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    King uses a lot of those--trust me.
     
  9. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Also, indicators of dialogue vary depending on time period. I have a copy of Gustav Flaubert's Madame Bovary (a french novel), which uses the em dash for dialogue, rather than chevrons. It's confusing, because it only indicates the start of the dialogue, and at times it'd difficult to see where the dialogue ends and narration resumes.
     
  10. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    In case you were wondering, the reason it's often typed as "--" rather than "-" is to differentiate it from the hyphen (which is "-"). You could type it as — but that takes the effort of looking it up on a character map, heh.
     
  11. yaar
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    yaar New Member

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    It's used in place of parentheses by some writers. There was a book I read not too long ago that used them; shame I can't remember its name.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    aside from being used in spain instead of our " " in english-speaking countries, the em dash is used to set off part of a sentence, much as one would do with ( )... but there are rules for the use of both, which you'll find in a good punctuation guide...

    here's the one i use and keep in my favorites menu for quick reference:
    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/grammar/g_overvw.html
     
  13. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    The -- dash can be used different ways in American English.

    I am not a grammar geek, but I like the em dash.

    It can be used like a comma for when you want the reader to pause longer. Usually like someone already mentioned, it is to set off an odd thought.

    It seems to be used most often in novels to show a longer pause in dialogue.

    "I went to the store last night--I think it was last night," she said.

    Another popular way it is used in novels is when someone is cut off in dialogue. In this was it sort of works like the . . .

    "Don't tell me to calm--"
    "Oh shuddap," Anne interupted.

    I hope this helps.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, but the only proper mark to show a pause within dialog is the ellipsis... though the em dash is used at the end, when a line is interrupted, or broken off by the speaker...
     
  15. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Mammamaia, I don't know about that. I am going by what I see in novels. Here are some examples:

    "You're too young for marriage," he said. "My age—-that's when it's time to settle down." - Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas
    "You're too young for marriage," he said. "My age—-that's when it's time to settle down." - Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas


    “That passes,” Miss Desjardin said. Pity and self-shame met in her and mixed uneasily. “You have to . . . uh, stop the flow of blood. You—“
    There was a bright flash overhead. - Stephen King, Carrie

    “Do I detect a note of—“
    “You probably do.” She said glumly. Stephen King, Carrie

    "No, Charlie, I—"
    "Ever cheat on an exam in college?" - Stephen King, Rage


    Oh, if I only had those last two years to do over, if only I could have launched the church before she discovered—"
    "You're looking at this all wrong - Anne Rice, Memnoch the Devil

    I personally find the em dash easier to read in dialogue than the ellipsis. It is unfortunte that in Harry potter the ellipsis are used in dialogue each and every time there is a pause or someone is cut off.
     
  16. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think an ellipsis (...) at the end of a quote gives the impression the speaker is trailing off, while a dash (—) gives the impression the speaker is suddenly interrupted. But maybe that's just me.
     
  17. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    Uh, that is what mammamai said, if you actually slow down and read her post, lol.
     
  18. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    If you notice Dean Koontz first example using the em dash, it is not at the end of the line. I wanted to find more examples like this, but I didn't have the time.
     
  19. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Here are some examples from Dune.

    He lifted his right hand, willing the memory of the pain. "And that's all
    there is to it -- pain?"


    "Our planetologist has many interesting dreams," Bewt said. "He dreams with
    the Fremen--of prophecies and messiahs."

    These might not be full stops in thought, like the Koontz example, but they do cause us to pause longer than a comma would cause us to. Maybe if there is an abrupt pause of thought in the middle of dialog, it is best to use the ellipsis.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    forget what you see in books, because that's more likely to be publisher's house style than what's expected in mss...

    what i noted is what most punctuation guides agree is 'proper'... if you choose to use something other, then just be consistent... if the publisher doesn't like it, you'll find it gets changed... and that can happen, no matter what you use...
     
  21. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Doh, read too quickly :)
     

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