From wikipedia:

(...) en dashes are used with spaces and em dashes are used without them:[2]

  • [Em dash:] A flock of sparrows—some of them juveniles—alighted and sang.
  • [En dash:] A flock of sparrows – some of them juveniles – alighted and sang.

The en dash (but not the em dash) is also used to indicate spans or differentiation, where it may be considered to replace "and" or "to" (but not "to" in the phrase "from … to …"):[3]

  • The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was fought in western Pennsylvania and along the present US–Canadian border (Edwards, pp. 81–101).

The em dash (but not the en dash) is also used to set off the sources of quotes:

  • "Seven social sins: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice." —Mahatma Gandhi

Are these dashes different in Portuguese? I.e. do they have different meanings and contexts? If so, do they also have the same spacing rule?


1 Answer 1


Em dash

In literacy it is used to begin a dialog(almost always at the beggining of a line) and to end the sentence as well:

— Where is the castle?

— I don't know. Let's go to the mall. Maybe we'll find it there.

Also it is possible to use for a sentence that is written between brakets, and instead of the brakets you use the em dashes. Or to indicate a severe change in thought:

I'm talking about the best dog hunters -my friend's dogs- that I've seen in my life.

En dashes

Indicates a break in the dialog:

— Mary – told me John– you're a very interesting person.


Are used when breaking apart the current word writing at the end of a line:

See text

Translation: When I got home I found a dead body lying on the floor. It looked like a murder. I wanted to call the cops, but the phone line was cutted off, so I left home to find a payphone and as soon as I reach the door a man came to me, but I was scared so I shooted him. That's why I'm in prison.

Also when the whole word is made up of two words that are separated with the hyphen, but is considered a single word:

cor verde-azul (colour green-blue) It is actually the name of a colour in portuguese

  • Aren't hyphens, instead of en dashes, used inside words?
    – Dan Getz
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 6:13
  • Hyphens and en dashes are the same thing Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 21:50
  • No they aren't... this is a hyphen: " - " and this is an en dash: " – ". The en dash is longer. Do you have any source that indicates they're used the same in Portuguese? The Portuguese Wikipedia says they shouldn't be confused with each other.
    – Dan Getz
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 22:16
  • 1
    In order, you have hyphen, n-dash, and m-dash seen between quotes: " - – — ". It's possible to see all three together in one line (though certainly rare and generally only in well type set novels) Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 1:52
  • 1
    Boa parte desta resposta é uma tradução desta outra resposta sem indicação de fonte.
    – Jacinto
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 21:04

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