In a previous blog we rediscovered the joys of the semicolon; in this one we look at hyphens and dashes.
Not with the same enthusiasm, admittedly. We love the semicolon, but we’re more suspicious of the hyphen and wouldn’t use it if we didn’t have to.
As writers, editors and proofreaders the hyphen causes us angst. The rules are, at best, complicated. And hang the rules, usage is complicated too.
There is a generational split: older users prefer it, younger users demur.
Ideally we’d avoid using it. But we also want to avoid punctuational ‘dad dancing’, getting down with the kids and embarrassing ourselves.
So, deferring to our actual generation, we point out where you really can’t get away without using a hyphen.
And throw in some dashes at the end.