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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:   Writing: Vocabulary, Grammar and Punctuation

Curriculum subtopic:   Use Hyphens to Clarify

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Welcome! 

In this activity, we will be getting to grips with grammar, specifically how to use hyphens.

 

 

1. Two clauses can be written as separate sentences.

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

 

2. Alternatively, two clauses can be joined by a conjunction.

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

 

3. However, If we want to link two clauses together as one sentence without conjunction we use either 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.

 

dash is used as an informal way of joining clauses without a conjunction.

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. This is wrong!

 

Now, let's put this knowledge to the test.

Remember, you can always turn back to the introduction is you are struggling and need a reminder.

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.

 

three young women eating in a restaursnt

Correct

Incorrect

All the following sentences are correctly punctuated except one.

 

Identify the incorrectly punctuated sentence below.

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.

 

Identify the incorrectly punctuated sentence below.

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.

Which punctuation would we use to join the two sentences below, without using conjunction?

 

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

Semi-colon

Dash

Full stop

Comma

Which punctuation would we use to join the two sentences below, without using conjunction?

 

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

 

Give your answer as a punctuation mark.

Semi-colon

Dash

Full stop

Comma

Which punctuation would we use to join the two sentences below, without using conjunction?

 

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

 

Give your answer as a punctuation mark.

Semi-colon

Dash

Full stop

Comma

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?

 

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
This was just a warm up! This sentence is acceptable in an informal situation. We can use a dash as both clauses 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. You need either a dash or a semicolon if you want to join two clauses.
  • 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.

 

three young women eating in a restaursnt

CORRECT ANSWER
Correct
EDDIE SAYS
How are you getting on? This sentence is correctly punctuated as it uses a semi-colon to link two sentences together which both make sense on their own. Can you remember if a semicolon is formal or informal English?
  • Question 4

All the following sentences are correctly punctuated except one.

 

Identify the incorrectly punctuated sentence below.

CORRECT ANSWER
My birthday is in June, my sister's is in April.
EDDIE SAYS
Remember, it is incorrect to link two sentences together using a comma. A comma should never be used to replace a conjunction.
  • Question 5

All the following sentences are correctly punctuated except one.

 

Identify the incorrectly punctuated sentence below.

CORRECT ANSWER
Dad's late, I hope he comes home soon.
EDDIE SAYS
Again, we never use commas to link two sentences together.
  • Question 6

Which punctuation would we use to join the two sentences below, without using conjunction?

 

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

CORRECT ANSWER
Semi-colon
Dash
EDDIE SAYS
If you were marked wrong because you wrote 'and' or 'but' these are conjunctions, which the question told you not to use. Either a semi-colon or a dash works, but a dash is better as the situation is an informal one. The correct sentence would read, 'We went to see a band last night- they were brilliant!'
  • Question 7

Which punctuation would we use to join the two sentences below, without using conjunction?

 

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

 

Give your answer as a punctuation mark.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
You're getting the hang of this now? You could use either use a dash or semi-colon. In this example, a semi-colon would be better as the situation is formal. It could be an exchange that took place in an interview between two strangers, for example.
  • Question 8

Which punctuation would we use to join the two sentences below, without using conjunction?

 

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

 

Give your answer as a punctuation mark.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This statement could have been said in a formal or informal situation, so a semi-colon or a dash can be used. Nearly there! Let's push on.
  • 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 informal situation. The question tells us the letter is formal and we know that we 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?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Use a semi-colon
Join the clauses with a conjunction
EDDIE SAYS
High five! You made it to the end of the activity. It is always better to use a semi-colon than a dash if you are unsure, as a dash is only suitable for informal situations. If you are really not sure then you could always join the clauses with conjunction instead. You should now feel more confident knowing in which contexts to use a semi-colon and in which contexts to use a dash.
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