As a non native English speaker, I am happy when I am able to unravel another mystery from the language :) In this case, 3 different "dash" signs in the written English :)
– n-dash (also known as ndash or en-dash)
— m-dash (also known as mdash or em-dash)
Hyphen is what we are using when words wrap at the end of a line. Other use is for the phone numbers, things that are grouped together, but not by range.
n-dash is used for ranges, either words or numbers.
m-dash is used when the sentence is going into another direction and other part of the sentence is radially different. Also, it can be used when dialog is being interrupted.
How I got here? Html entities and correct display of those on the web page...
Here they are:
0. The soft hyphen (
­a.k.a. “discretionary hyphen” and “optional hyphen”) is to be used for one purpose only—to indicate where a word may be broken at the end of a line.
1. The non-breaking hyphen (
‑not in HTML) does just what its name implies.
2. The hyphen character (
‐not in HTML) is meant to be used in place of the hyphen-minus when a hyphen is exactly the desired character.
3. The hyphenation point (
‧not in HTML) is that bullet-like character you find in some dictionaries to separate syllables.
The en dash: (
The em dash: (