Why you need a dash

Why you need a dash

The value of punctuation marks always performs the task of facilitating reading. In the ancient manuscripts we see complex screensavers and initial letters, but the words are written with minimal spaces, without any capitalization in the sentences and proper names, without punctuation. It’s nice to watch, but not very readable, although the letters are very clearly written out.

The dash appeared in Russian orthography as one of the last – in the XVIII century. It reflects in writing the peculiarity of coherent speech – changes in voice height and pause in some cases, there are a total of 15. But the most common:

When the implied word is omitted. In Russian, this always happens in sentences with a compound nominal predicate in the present tense. We always omit

the verb of a bunch. In such cases, only the nominal part expressed by the noun is left of the predicate, compare: “Vasya is a hero” and “Vasya is a hero”. Missed can be exactly and means

If the subject and the predicate are related to each other only in sense, and not grammatically, that is, if we have a combination of a noun in the nominative case and a verb in an indefinite form:

Especially begs dashes, when the sentence has a generalizing word with homogeneous terms:

A dash is written between individual simple sentences as part of a complex one when there is an element of surprise or opposition:

It makes no sense to list all 15 cases, because the question is not formulated “when we write?”, But “why is it necessary?” If we do not put a dash, there will be embarrassment when reading, making understanding difficult.

If we write nouns or verbs without punctuation marks in front of us, then we would have to be stuck for a while, figuring out whether they are homogeneous members of the sentence or its basis. This is a non-lethal stop. if you do it once a year, but three hundred years ago you needed a quick reading of voluminous texts that you could not meditate on, but you had to perceive quickly and understand correctly. Nowadays these volumes have only

increased, so the situation “stumbled and froze” is extremely undesirable.

It is important to understand that we pause when reading not because there is a dash there, but we are writing it, because this pause and the change of intonation appear in the natural flow of speech. However, do not follow the place of every theatrically conceived voice stop drawing a dash, unless you are an avant-garde poet. The presence of a dash in a sentence always presupposes some formal grammatical inconsistency of parts that does not violate the semantic unity.

In Russian, a dash performs several functions at once. A dash can replace the required word-bundle, more accurately convey the meaning of the sentence, give the text a new intonation shades.

Consider the first function of this punctuation character. In modern speech, we will never say “my mother is a doctor”. On the letter, the bunch “is” replaces the dash, that is, in writing, the sentence will look like this: “my mother is a doctor”. Agree, it is much more convenient and more customary than expressing your thoughts using words-bundles, which strongly resembles the “broken” Russian visitor to a tourist.

No less significant is the second function of the dash, the intonation, which often intersects with the semantic. For example, a dash is put to point to the opposition of something to something, to express an effect, to distinguish a comparison, to designate a moment, a time. Dash helps to convey a moment of surprise, or anxiety, or some confusion of thoughts: “My act was definitely right and appropriate – or is it not?”. Bumping into a dash, the reader seems to freeze, like before jumping into a cold water: “I was walking – and suddenly my legs gave way, my fingers unclenched, and the bag with a thump knocked against the asphalt.” The tension, emotions that can transmit a dash – that’s what is most valuable in this sign.

Thus, I believe that the Russian language, so often called the richest, most expressive and most beautiful, would not have such a high title without a dash, a punctuation mark, which some people for some reason often forget about in their writings.


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Why you need a dash