Em-Dash Follow-Up

Our Case–Please Hear Me Out–Against the Em Dash. This is a recent article on Slate.com, railing against the overuse of the em-dash. The author overuses the em-dash to make a point, but at the same time, he creates the horrible writing of which he is railing against. The em-dash is not a force for grammatical evil, which I think he implies, but like anything, it can be misused and make a piece of writing worse instead of better. No one wants to constantly read asides anymore than they want to read a word repeated too many times in a short space.

He also seems unaware of the fact that punctuation usage changes over time. While he is complaining that modern writers are using the dash too much now, he totally ignores the fact that 100 years ago, people used commas with abandon. And in some ways, we use them too little today. In short, the trend has moved away from commas. Perhaps writers today, though, are going with em-dashes to replace the loss. But regardless, writing styles change over time, and there’s nothing wrong with the em-dash coming into vogue, as long as it’s not abused.

(My original article on how to properly use an em-dash.)


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