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vipin viswanathan
Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2020 5:37:11 AM

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Researchers in China have found a new form of swine flu that can infect humans—and they say it has the potential to cause another pandemic in the future.

It is from a science website. They have put a hyphen after 'humans'. Why would they do it?
thar
Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2020 5:56:26 AM

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This is not a hyphen, it is a dash.

İt connects two parts of the sentence. İt is there to add drama. The dash makes the reader pause between the two clauses.

I don't think it is good writing but the experts here may comment on that.
It is written in an informal, friendly style, talking to the readers like friends. It is not how you would write an essay or formal report.


You have two clauses.
Researchers in China have found a new form of swine flu that can infect humans.
They say it has the potential to cause another pandemic in the future.

These two statements are closely linked, so you don't want to make two sentences.

You could use a simple conjunction:
Researchers in China have found a new form of swine flu that can infect humans and they say it has the potential to cause another pandemic in the future.


You can pause slightly with a comma

Researchers in China have found a new form of swine flu that can infect humans, and they say it has the potential to cause another pandemic in the future.


But this writer wanted a more dramatic pause before the important revelation.


Researchers in China have found a new form of swine flu that can infect humans — and they say it has the potential to cause another pandemic in the future.

Quote:
A dash is a horizontal line that shows a pause or break in meaning, or that represents missing words or letters.
Note that dashes are rather informal and should be used carefully in writing.
Dashes are often used informally instead of commas, colons and brackets.
A dash may or may not have a space on either side of it.

Hasan Alam 1
Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2020 8:27:05 AM

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vipin viswanathan wrote:
Researchers in China have found a new form of swine flu that can infect humans—and they say it has the potential to cause another pandemic in the future.

It is from a science website. They have put a hyphen after 'humans'. Why would they do it?

this is not hyphen but M dash or N dash
tautophile
Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2020 11:11:00 AM
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Yes, in typing--either on a typewriter or on a word processor--a dash is made by typing two hyphens, as you can see earlier in this sentence. A single hyphen is "-"; a double hyphen or dash is "--". You may be able to see the very small gap between the two hyphens in the dashes I have made here; but some word processors will automatically turn a double hyphen into a real typographical dash, such that the tiny gap disappears.
thar
Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2020 12:02:53 PM

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I just want to correct my typo of "İt" to "It".

I didn't realise my keypad was still set to Turkish which has two letters, ı/I and i/İ.
I changed it but didn't realise those letters were there at the beginning.

Capital I does not have a dot in the English alphabet. (Except maybe in some advertising designs, but not in normal writing).
Just my mistake, nothing strange happening! Whistle
Wilmar (USA) 1M
Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2020 12:07:44 PM

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The Farlex grammar lessons available here on TFD include a lesson on the differences between and uses for the n-dash, m-dash, hyphen, and dash. It's worth looking at.
Romany
Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2020 1:17:05 PM
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Tauto - well there's a surprise! After all this time, I hadn't known that a dash, in AE, is represented by two hyphens!!

I've only ever seen that usage here, on some TFD posts...and always assumed it was a typo!

Internationally, a dash is represented by: a space, a line(a hyphen - when typing rather than writing) a space after the line and before the next word. i.e space, line, space.

A hyphen LINKS two or more words together, with no space in between:- High-chair; The man-I-thought-was-a rapist,,,and, like Thar, no-one. I also write co-operate. Words beginning with "coop", or "noon" are pronounced, and some mean, completely unrelated things in English.

So many native speakers prefer to indicate whether they are saying a word pronounced "kooperate" - which exists in English only as spelt "couperate"; or the word "noon" with a silent "e". It can be a bit of a muddle. The hyphen ensures clarity.
tautophile
Posted: Sunday, July 12, 2020 5:06:03 PM
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Actually, Romany, a dash in AmE is represented by a dash, at least in print. A dash is a centered line roughly three times the length of a hyphen, and it may or may not be preceded and followed by a space. In printed (typeset) text, dashes aren't usually set apart by spaces. In typing, especially on a typewriter, a dash is represented by two hyphens, sometimes preceded and followed by a space, but usually not, depending on the whim of the writer. Most modern word processors automatically change two adjacent hyphens into a single dash on the display or printout. Some writers use a single hyphen between spaces for a dash; this may be more common in BrE, but it's by no means universal.

When you are using a dash to represent omitted letters (as in the exclamation "d--n your eyes!"), you would not use preceding or following spaces (no "d -- n your eyes!")

In this sentence--the one right here--I have used two hyphens with no spaces to represent dashes. I don't know how they will appear on your display, but as I type, I see two hyphens side by side.

Hyphens are also sources of confusion. Many words that used to have hyphens no longer do. We used to write "to-day", but today we don't. We're used enough to the word "cooperate" that we don't feel the need to hyphenate it to "co-operate", and even less need to put in a dieresis to make it "coöperate". However, we still need to differentiate "react" (in a chemical sense) and "re-act" (act again), so a hyphen is needed there.

FWIW, I would write the dates of Abraham Lincoln as "(1809 - 1865)" in preference to "(1809-1865)", for the sake of legibility.

Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, July 13, 2020 1:06:40 AM

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Oddly enough, gmail has a different macro.

If you type something like ". . . infect humans - and they say . . .", it automatically changes as you type to ". . . infect humans and they say . . ." (an M-dash).
If you don't put spaces around the hyphen, it's not changed.
Romany
Posted: Monday, July 13, 2020 6:50:56 AM
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Tauto -

It would seem we speak a different language when it comes to punctuation!

The use of "--" is completely unfamiliar to me. The first Editor I ever worked for insisted that all Journalists start at the very bottom - in the print-house (Yep! They still set print by hand!) and there was no block with two hyphens on it, so it must be a comparatively new icon?

Anyway, from this I guess what we've learnt is that AE has some slightly different print-conventions, and leave it at that.

Drago - is your Language set at BE? I've never had my punctuation changed - and as you might have noticed I use dashes often to save time when chatting online.
FounDit
Posted: Monday, July 13, 2020 10:46:44 AM

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My computer does a hyphen like this "-", and that's fine for hyphenated words (though extremely tiny), but to make a dash, I use the Alt key + 0151 which produces this: "—". I like that better than the "--", which is ugly to me.
Drag0nspeaker
Posted: Monday, July 13, 2020 11:59:53 PM

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Location: Livingston, Scotland, United Kingdom
Romany wrote:
Drago - is your Language set at BE? I've never had my punctuation changed - and as you might have noticed I use dashes often to save time when chatting online.

Yes - BE.
But my memory played me false. It's Microsoft Word which does that.

If I type a hyphenated word, I get a hyphen. If I type "word, space, hyphen, space, word" you can see it change when I finish typing the second word (and type a space, apostrophe, comma, full stop etc.), the hyphen doubles in length to become a proper dash - also my inverted commas become proper opening and closing quotation marks. This first line is what I typed, and the second line is what it looks like in Word.

"Go to school - don't delay."
“Go to school ̶ don’t delay.”

Microsoft call it "autoformat" - I can change the settings if I want.
Romany
Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2020 7:18:28 AM
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Joined: 6/14/2009
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

Ah - that's why, then. Thanks. I found it strange it did it to you and not to me.
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