What punctuation mark should I put after the word introduce (to emphasize, convey a pause),

"Let me introduce (—/,/:) [name]"?

I would favor dash, but in English, it's used differently than in my native language (like a colon and other punctuation marks).


2 Answers 2


If a speaker uses a dramatic pause, a writer seeking to reproduce this in dialog may use an em-dash (the longer dash). The example would be rendered as:

Let me introduce—John

some style guides advise space on each side of an em-dash, as:

Let me introduce — John

In either case this represents a significant pause, longer than the pause a comma or semi-colon would indicate. I have seen it used in dialog with some frequency.

Several sources support this use of an em-dash, or something like it:

  • The page "em-dash" from The Punctuation Guide states:

The em dash can be used in place of a colon when you want to emphasize the conclusion of your sentence. The dash is less formal than the colon.

  • After months of deliberation, the jurors reached a unanimous verdict⁠—guilty.
  • The white sand, the warm water, the sparkling sun⁠—this is what brought them to Fiji.

Em dashes can also signal an interruption or a sudden change in the direction a writer was heading with a particular sentence. This technique is best suited for creative or informal writing. If you use it in academic writing, you might look unsure of yourself. Consider the examples below:

  • Mary, could you—no, Mikey, don’t touch the sharp knife!—Mary, could you please set the table?
  • Dinner is at 6:30—not 6:29 or 6:31.
  • Where the heck is my—wait, what was I looking for?
  • Would you please—oh, never mind.

An em dash can also be used to mark a break in a sentence in place of a semicolon or colon. In this context, dashes are often used for emphasis or to signal a change in tone:

There was no arguing with her—she was set in her opinion.

  • An em dash can mark an abrupt change or break in the structure of a sentence.

Mabel the Cat was delighted with the assortment of pastries the new bakery featured, but Harry the Dog—he felt otherwise.

  • An em dash can indicate interrupted speech or a speaker’s confusion or hesitation.
  • Harry’s bafflement was apparent. “That the bakers fail to recognize the crucial importance of the cheese Danish—”
  • “Of course you have a point,” Mabel murmured. “That is—I suppose it is concerning.”

An em dash can replace a colon that introduces additional information at the end of a sentence. Again, this is often done to draw a reader’s attention.

  • After his long journey, Gawain finally found out what was in the lockbox—nothing!
  • The Narrator finally realized the truth—Tyler Durden wasn’t real.
  • After days of deliberation, the jury came to its final verdict—not guilty.

The em dash in American English is a punctuation mark that helps to convey emphasis, introduction, interruption, or a swift change of thought. In doing so, the em dash acts similarly to commas, semicolons, colons, and parentheses.


Sometimes we may write as we think or speak: in other words, in a nonlinear way. We might start with one thought and abruptly shift to another. In writing, the em dash allows us to express such rapid changes:

I just wanted to say—oh, it’s nothing.

Just as em-dashes add emphasis when they take the place of commas or parentheses, so do they add emphasis to an already emphatic punctuation mark: the colon. You want to be sparing in your use of an em-dash in place of a colon, and remember that by using an em-dash instead of a colon, your style becomes less formal. If that’s your intention and you want to add special emphasis to a word or phrase, then use the em-dash. Take the following sentence as an example.

After 1,000 miles of sputtering along in his tiny Honda, Dennis could think only one thing as he approached his driveway—home.

A pause in speech can a;so be shown with an ellipsis (...). But that is more often used for broken speech, or an involuntary pause, not and intentional dramatic pause.


"Let me introduce—John" {I say no}
"Let me introduce, John" {Arguable}
"Let me introduce: John" {I say no}

I don't see any reason why any punctuation is needed there. And you don't say clearly what you are trying to emphasize on.


If you are speaking, a small pause will do. The pause is not necessary though; in fact, one can legitimately argue that the pause should be avoided. When you are speaking, you really don't need to actually think about punctuation marks. If you want to know what a small pause in speech equates to, then it is just a comma. Generally, a bigger pause can merit the use of a semicolon or an em dash—but not in your sentence.


If you are writing that sentence, then no punctuation is needed. I can't remember ever seeing the use of a comma or any other mark there after "introduce". Its a short sentence, the reader (or listener) can easily follow you without the pause.


I am assuming that you want to bring some attention to this person you are introducing. In that case, you need to insert a unique characteristic of this person in that sentence. For example, you can say

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce to you – the man who survived a gruesome grizzly attack and 21 days in the wilderness – John Bane Norman.

  • Can I use a dash without that wordy introduction? I WANT to convey a pause. Say, it's someone unexpected, surprising Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 12:26
  • 1
    @SergeyZolotarev You can use the dash if that is what you want. You might be able to get away with it if what you are writing is a creative writing piece (e.g., fiction). However, if it is something more official (academic, office report, etc.) then I suggest you don't use the dash - it doesn't belong there in that sentence.
    – AIQ
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 16:51
  • @AIQ - Why does the dash work with the unique characteristic but not simply with the name? Your dash, in your example with just the name, is not how it would be written. There would be space between the dash and the words, like your unique characteristic example. Let me introduce -- John.
    – EllieK
    Commented Sep 2, 2021 at 15:30
  • 1
    @EllieK When you use the em dash, the spaces are not required (and Chicago manual advices not to put spaces). When you use the en dash (which is shorter than the em dash), spaces can be used. The em dash can be used to set off additional information (like unique characteristics). In this case, the em dash/es perform the job of a pair of commas (em dashes do a better job of creating a pause or visual effect than commas). The em dash does not work with the "name" example because that isn't additional information - the name is essential. Without the name, the sentence is incomplete.
    – AIQ
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 10:23
  • 1
    But if you remove the additional information from the last example, the sentence still makes sense: Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce to you [...] John Bane Norman.
    – AIQ
    Commented Sep 3, 2021 at 10:23

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