En dash: the tricky dash

The en dash (or en rule) is shorter than the em dash, longer than the hyphen, and different from both in usage. It is said to have derived its name from the length of a lower case ‘n’.

Also read Em dash: the regular dash


*It is used between different periods of time to mean ‘to’ or ‘through’.


  1. My father fought in the Second World War (1939–45).
  2. July–August 1999.
  3. He said 100–200 people were present.

Note that you should not use an en dash if you use ‘from’ or ‘between’, e.g. from 1993-2009 (from 1993 to 2009), between 10–20 (between 10 and 20).

*It is used for result of contests, competitions, etc.


  1. He score the last goal in the 2–1 win against Arsenal.
  2. The managed to beat the host 28-20 in the final.

* It is used to indicate connection, conflict, or direction.


  1. The North–South amalgamation.
  2. It was a Jackie Chan-style kick.
  3. Ghana–Nigeria diplomatic relationship.
  4. US–Canada border.
  5. NCP–PFP altercation.
  6. Lagos–Cairo flight.

* It can also be used in compound adjectives, either open or hyphenated.


  1. Pre–Civil War era.
  2. The post–World War II era.
  3. Our non–English-speaking foreign students.








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