1. Education
Send to a Friend via Email

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-
tique.
  
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

  

  

The free, twice-weekly About French newsletter keeps you informed about changes to this site, including new lessons, articles, and forum discussions. Subscribe today!

Subscribe to the Newsletter
Name
Email

Discuss in my forum

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.