In Capitalization of first letter after a dash , it was claimed (with some citations supplied)

Where are the rules that even say a dash is permissible in a sentence like "I'm in South Ossetia - yes, I managed to get a visa!"?

While I myself would say "I'm in South Ossetia. Yes, I managed to get a visa!", using a dash seems ok to me. I suspect such a conversational style would be frowned upon in formal writing, but that's a separate issue.

Is there a consensus against using the dash this way?

2 Answers 2


This is as good a summary as any...

An interjection is a word expressing some kind of emotion. It can be used as filler. Interjections do not have a grammatical function in the sentence and are not related to the other parts of the sentence.
If an interjection is omitted, the sentence still makes sense. It can stand alone. (italics mine).

I suggest that in OP's example, "yes" is an interjection. So if we remove it, we're left with...

"I'm in South Ossetia [?] I managed to get a visa!"

...where I've left [?] in there because it's not obvious which of the original punctuation marks were part of the interjection. You'll note from the link above that in all their examples, the interjection is a capitalised word followed by an exclamation mark.

I see no reason for OP to deviate from that pattern. The original should have been...

"I'm in South Ossetia. Yes! I managed to get a visa!"

...in which case there would be no problem in removing the interjection...

"I'm in South Ossetia. I managed to get a visa!"

In principle, the period in that final version could perhaps be a dash. But in practice hardly anyone would write "Yes! - I did it!", so if we're going to be consistent, "chatty" dashes aren't really helpful.

TL;DR: Don't use dashes in the first place. Stick to the standard orthography. Capitalise the first letter of the interjection, and follow it by an exclamation mark (or period). So you could remove it if you wanted to.


Comma Sense, a fun-damental guide to punctuation suggests to use a dash to signify a sudden change of thought, or before the citation of an author or the source of a quotation. (It has a part about using dashes in pairs that I will not quote.)

She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, she loves me not—then again, what I am doing asking the opinion of a flower?

We are going to—what's that burning smell?

This is the best present we have ever received. I can't believe the Greeks went through all this trouble. This wooden horse is huge. And it is so easy, isn't it? That is because it's made so well. It's about the time that—hey, did you just hear the horse giggle?

In the last example, the dash is used before an interjection, but the purpose of the dash is still to signify a sudden change of thought.

  • I don't see how this helps in OP's specific case - where personally, I think the dash is not appropriate. Arguably because it's not a "sudden chane of thought". It's an explanation/expansion. Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 18:41
  • That is my point: There are just two cases where a single dash should be used, and neither of them applies to the example given from the OP.
    – apaderno
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 20:42
  • I don't really disagree with anything you say, but take, for example, Abby gave me a terrible haircut—and she expected a tip!. Or And he must've thought — Wow. What had he thought?. Are either or both of those "wrong"? It's still not that obvious to me that you're actually saying OP's dash is incorrect. Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 21:03

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