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What is dash meant for..?

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What is dash meant for..? [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2010, 02:19
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Guys ,
What does a dash(-) signify in a sentence . I was intimidated to see a one in the
actual GMAT test.
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Re: What is dash meant for..? [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2010, 06:10
- is a seperator of the non-essential part

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Re: What is dash meant for..? [#permalink] New post 11 Nov 2010, 09:05
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If it is a dash (the longer version of -) then, the context may decide the usage. But on the contrary, if it is the shorter version (-), then it may be a hyphen, which signifies an apposition, kind of additional information to the noun or the clause it touches. The info that follows will be an inessential one, which may be conveniently ignored.

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Re: What is dash meant for..? [#permalink] New post 18 Nov 2010, 15:08
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Raths,

Although the dash is pretty rare on the GMAT, it certainly does show up and is therefore worth discussing. Most often, the dash can take the place of a comma under a few specific scenarios:

1. The dash can serve to see off a list:

"I went to the mall with my friends -- Jim, Joe, and Jerry -- and bought a new pair of pants." Here, my friends names are "Jim, Joe, and Jerry." Often, people use commas here. The issue with commas is that it would be slightly ambiguous:

"I went to the mall with my friends, Jim, Joe, and Jerry, and bought a new pair of pants." Here, it's not clear whether Jim, Joe, and Jerry ARE the friends or if they went to the mall WITH me and my friends.

2. The dash can serve to set off a parenthetical:

"My high school football team -- who hasn't won a game in 40 years -- just beat the best school in the state." Here, the dash serves the same purposes as parentheses. You really don't use parentheses on formal occasions such as GMAT test day.

Hope that helps!

Brett

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Re: What is dash meant for..? [#permalink] New post 18 Nov 2010, 18:39
BKimball wrote:
Raths,

Although the dash is pretty rare on the GMAT, it certainly does show up and is therefore worth discussing. Most often, the dash can take the place of a comma under a few specific scenarios:

1. The dash can serve to see off a list:

"I went to the mall with my friends -- Jim, Joe, and Jerry -- and bought a new pair of pants." Here, my friends names are "Jim, Joe, and Jerry." Often, people use commas here. The issue with commas is that it would be slightly ambiguous:

"I went to the mall with my friends, Jim, Joe, and Jerry, and bought a new pair of pants." Here, it's not clear whether Jim, Joe, and Jerry ARE the friends or if they went to the mall WITH me and my friends.

2. The dash can serve to set off a parenthetical:

"My high school football team -- who hasn't won a game in 40 years -- just beat the best school in the state." Here, the dash serves the same purposes as parentheses. You really don't use parentheses on formal occasions such as GMAT test day.

Hope that helps!

Brett


Brett, my question concerns the example that you've used - "My high school football team -- who hasn't won a game in 40 years -- just beat the best school in the state." Can you use 'who' to refer to the football team? Shouldn't 'which / that' be used?
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Re: What is dash meant for..? [#permalink] New post 18 Nov 2010, 18:41
oh...i nearly forgot. Can you use 'whose' to refer to non person things?
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Re: What is dash meant for..? [#permalink] New post 21 Nov 2010, 09:51
Great catch! That's what I get for copying and pasting!

Yes, you would want to use "which" here. There is some debate about where you can use "whose" to refer to an inanimate object, but certainly we should have used "which" here.

You can only use "that" if there is no comma before it, because "that" indicates a restrictive clause. For example:

I don't like the dog that lives next door. --> Correct. Which dog don't you like? The one that lives next door.

I don't like the dog, that lives next door. --> Incorrect.

Thanks for pointing that out!

Brett

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Re: What is dash meant for..?   [#permalink] 21 Nov 2010, 09:51
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