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Informal Writing: Using Dashes

In this worksheet, students practise using dashes to join clauses in informal writing.

'Informal Writing: Using Dashes' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:   English

Curriculum subtopic:   Punctuation: Commas, Hyphens, Parentheses & Dashes

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

A dash can be used as an informal way of joining clauses without a conjunction.

 

These two clauses can be written as separate sentences:

I went to the cinema today. I didn't really like the film.

 

They can also be joined by a conjunction:

I went to the cinema today but I didn't really like the film.

 

If we want to link them together as one sentence without a conjunction we can either use a semi-colon or a dash:

I went to the cinema today; I didn't really like the film.

I went to the cinema today - I didn't really like the film.

 

Using a semi-colon is the preferred way in formal English. However, for informal writing, such as an email to a friend, a semi-colon can look too serious so a dash is more appropriate.

 

Note that two independent clauses (clauses that make sense on their own) should never be joined with a comma. This is a common mistake.

I went to the cinema today, I didn't really like the film. (wrong)

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is correctly punctuated or not.

 

My dog is really naughty - he chewed up Dad's slippers yesterday!

correct

incorrect

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is correctly punctuated or not.

 

I am really hungry, I can't wait for dinner.

correct

incorrect

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is correctly punctuated or not.

 

I went out for a lovely meal last night; the food was delicious.

correct

incorrect

All the following sentences are correctly punctuated except one. Tick the odd one out.

My birthday is in June but my sister's is in April.

My birthday is in June - my sister's is in April.

My birthday is in June, my sister's is in April.

My birthday is in June; my sister's is in April.

All the following sentences are correctly punctuated except one. Tick the odd one out.

Dad's late, I hope he comes home soon.

Dad's late - I hope he comes home soon.

Dad's late; I hope he comes home soon.

Dad's late. I hope he comes home soon.

Use punctuation to join these sentences without a conjunction. Write your answer in the box.

 

We went to see a band last night. They were brilliant!

Use punctuation to join these sentences without a conjunction. Write your answer in the box.

 

I am pleased to meet you. I have heard a lot about you.

Use punctuation to join these sentences without a conjunction. Write your answer in the box.

 

I'm sorry I hurt you. I didn't mean to.

Which punctuation mark should you use to join two independent clauses in a letter applying for a job?

Semi-colon

Dash

Comma

If you are unsure whether to use a semi-colon or a dash when joining independent clauses, what should you do?

 

Tick two boxes.

Use a comma instead

Use a semi-colon

Use a dash

Join the clauses with a conjunction

  • Question 1

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is correctly punctuated or not.

 

My dog is really naughty - he chewed up Dad's slippers yesterday!

CORRECT ANSWER
correct
EDDIE SAYS
Great to see you having a go! This sentence is fine in an informal situation. We can use a dash as both clauses can make sense on their own.
  • Question 2

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is correctly punctuated or not.

 

I am really hungry, I can't wait for dinner.

CORRECT ANSWER
incorrect
EDDIE SAYS
This is a really common mistake. Using a comma to join two independent clauses is never correct. Keep going super star!
  • Question 3

Read the following sentence and decide whether it is correctly punctuated or not.

 

I went out for a lovely meal last night; the food was delicious.

CORRECT ANSWER
correct
EDDIE SAYS
You got this! This is correctly punctuated. You can use a semi-colon to link two sentences together provided they would both make sense on their own.
  • Question 4

All the following sentences are correctly punctuated except one. Tick the odd one out.

CORRECT ANSWER
My birthday is in June, my sister\'s is in April.
EDDIE SAYS
Did you get it correct? Remember it is never correct to link two sentences together using a comma. A comma should not be used to replace a conjunction. You got this!
  • Question 5

All the following sentences are correctly punctuated except one. Tick the odd one out.

CORRECT ANSWER
Dad\'s late, I hope he comes home soon.
EDDIE SAYS
Super effort! Remember we do not use commas to link two sentences together.
  • Question 6

Use punctuation to join these sentences without a conjunction. Write your answer in the box.

 

We went to see a band last night. They were brilliant!

CORRECT ANSWER
We went to see a band last night; they were brilliant!
We went to see a band last night - they were brilliant!
EDDIE SAYS
You got this! You can use either a semi-colon or a dash here, but a dash is better as the situation is an informal one.
  • Question 7

Use punctuation to join these sentences without a conjunction. Write your answer in the box.

 

I am pleased to meet you. I have heard a lot about you.

CORRECT ANSWER
I am pleased to meet you; I have heard a lot about you.
I am pleased to meet you - I have heard a lot about you.
EDDIE SAYS
You got the hang of this now? Again you can use either a dash or semi-colon. This time a semi-colon would be better as the situation is more formal.
  • Question 8

Use punctuation to join these sentences without a conjunction. Write your answer in the box.

 

I'm sorry I hurt you. I didn't mean to.

CORRECT ANSWER
I'm sorry I hurt you; I didn't mean to.
I'm sorry I hurt you - I didn't mean to.
EDDIE SAYS
How did you get on? This could be said in a formal or informal situation, so a semi-colon or a dash can be used. Nearly there! Lets do this!
  • Question 9

Which punctuation mark should you use to join two independent clauses in a letter applying for a job?

CORRECT ANSWER
Semi-colon
EDDIE SAYS
Although you could use a dash, we only use them in an information situation. The question tells us the letter is formal. Always use the semi-colon in a formal situation.
  • Question 10

If you are unsure whether to use a semi-colon or a dash when joining independent clauses, what should you do?

 

Tick two boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
Use a semi-colon
Join the clauses with a conjunction
EDDIE SAYS
High five! It is always better to use a semi-colon than a dash if you are not sure, as a dash is only for informal situations. If you are really not sure then you could always join the clauses with a conjunction instead. Great work!
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