When to use hyphens vs commas?

Hyphens and commas are both punctuation marks used in English writing, but they serve different purposes.

Hyphens are best used when you want to create a strong break or highlight a supplementary statement. Hyphens are used to join two or more words that function together as a single concept before a noun. Hyphens are used to divide words at the end of lines in writing when the entire word cannot fit on the line. 

Commas are used to separate items in a list of three or more, divide clauses, and add extra information.

Examples of the use of hyphens:

  • Well-known
  • The yam pottage — which I barely ate  — Upset my stomach.

Examples of the use of commas:

  • I need to buy apples, oranges, bananas, and grapes.
  • I like to read, but I don’t like math.


References / Additional Readings
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