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Hyphens and Dashes - Le Tiret et le trait d'union

Using French punctuation for links, lists, dialogues, and more

Hyphens and m-dashes are important in both English and French, but they are considerably more common in the latter. This lesson explains when, why, and how to use hyphens and m-dashes in French.

I.  Trait d'union   -   Hyphen No space before or after
A.  Rapport : Indicate a link between words or parts of words.
  1. Compound words grand-mère, couvre-lit, quatre-vingts
  2. Hyphenated names Jean-Luc, Marie-Lise
  3. Imperative + pronoun aide-moi, fais-le, allez-y
  4. Inversion veux-tu, pouvez-vous, a-t-il
  5. Prefixes non-fumeur, quasi-collision
  6. Set expressions c'est-à-dire, vis-à-vis
  7. Suffixes celui-ci, cet homme-là
B. Césure : Link the parts of a word that breaks at the end of a line such as Je veux aller à la bou-
II. Tiret   —   M-dash Space before and after
A. Éléments d'une liste : 
— deux bananes
— une pomme
— un kilo de fraises
B. Incise : Emphasize a comment (aside, interjection, etc)
Quand j'étais à la banque — quelle horreur ! — je l'ai vu.
Paul — mon meilleur ami — va arriver demain.
C. Dialogue : Indicate each change of speaker
— J'ai vu Michel aujourd'hui.
— Ah bon ?
— Oui, il était avec sa fille.


French Punctuation     Symbols and Punctuation Marks

Additional Writing Resources     French Grammar

Differences Between French and English



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