How to Use a Dash in a Sentence

Cozy Grammar with Marie and Thomas

This month we wanted to explore how to use a dash in a sentence—and why!

Plus we're excited to announce the release of Marie's latest album of classical piano music for learning and to share a glimpse behind the scenes of the revised and expanded Intermediate Cozy Grammar Course, Levels 1 & 2.

But first, the dash. Like parentheses and brackets, the dash can be one of the most confusing punctuation marks in the English language.

Not even the experts agree on how to use them. As Marie reminds us, however, this is a good thing.

It shows how the English language is constantly evolving.

It's also why, in the Basic Cozy Punctuation Course, both Marie and I focus on the simplest and most important ways of using the dash.

Take a peek at an excerpt from Marie's introduction to dashes, then I'll show you how they can add additional power to poetry.

As you can see in Marie's example, dashes allow us to show how our thoughts shift from one thing to another.

This can also be a powerful way to make an important or surprising point.

How to Use a Dash in a Poem

I like to end each of our live Ask Cozy Grammar Q&A sessions with a poem.

Here's a poem I shared recently from the 12th century Tamil woman, poet, and saint, Avvaiyar.

It is a beautiful poem about friendship, and is also a wonderful example of the third of the five ways of using a dash in a sentence: for emphasis or suspense.

Take a moment to listen to the poem and see if you can hear where the dash comes in.

Then I'll show you where it goes!

Did you hear the dash at the end of the poem?

Take a look and see how you did!

           Like water birds that leave a dried-up lake,
           Those who flee trouble are not friends.
                                                                  Like the lilies
           And lotuses staying in that lake,
           Those who stick with you—friends.

See how the dash allows us to give a little extra emphasis to the word "friends"?

The dash helps us to give the language even more life.

Behind the Scenes of Intermediate Grammar

Part of what makes Cozy Grammar special is that it bears witness to an extraordinary friendship.

Though you can't see it in her videos, all through the filming of Cozy Grammar's courses, Marie was undergoing treatment for stage 4 cancer.

In fact, Cozy Grammar was born from Marie's desire to keep living even in the face of a terminal diagnosis.

And it was born from her long friendship with co-founder David Mielke, who stuck with her through her hardest days, just as she had stuck with him through his.

So it is with deep gratitude and excitement that we want to share that we've finally begun filming the supplementary videos for the revised and expanded version of Marie's Intermediate Cozy Grammar Course, Levels 1 & 2.

We're hoping to have both levels ready in time for the fall of 2021. Wish us luck!

Here's a glimpse behind the scenes:

David filming the Intermediate Cozy Grammar Course

David Mielke on Eagle Rock in front of Marie's Cozy Beach Cottage

Thomas filming the Intermediate Cozy Grammar Course

Thomas in front of Sarah the Herrerasaurus on the edge of Discovery Passage

In order to complete the filming by this fall, we're taking a short break from our live Ask Cozy Grammar Q&A sessions.

Please feel free, however, to continue sending in any questions you might have in the meantime.

I'll be happy to respond to them directly and personally in an email!

Next Up—Chopin!

We're also delighted to announce that Marie's sixth album, Chopin and Me, is now available for download.

Chopin was a consummate composer for the piano, and Marie's album explores some of his most beloved compositions, including his famous "Fantaisie Impromptu."

Chopin and Me is a wonderful way to enliven the mind and body for learning grammar, punctuation, or anything else!

Learn more about Chopin & Me on our website.

We'll be releasing a new album from Marie each month for the next four months, so be sure to stay subscribed for the latest news.

Thank You!

Thank you for joining us this month. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

It's always a pleasure to be of service!

I hope this finds you and your family happy, healthy, and enjoying the arrival of spring—or fall!—depending where you are in the world.



Marie's Language Consultant
The Cozy Grammar Series of Courses