While reading novels I come across’…’ and ‘–‘. (Three dots or a long dash). I was assuming it means a long pause but I am confused of alternate usages.
First, definitions: The ‘…’ is called an ellipses. The long dash ‘–‘ is called an em dash. The em dash is an old printer’s term meaning a dash that is the width of the uppercase ‘M’ letter. The em dash–sometimes written ’em-dash’–is the widest letter in the type case on the upper shelf of the typesetter’s composition bench. A hyphen ‘-‘, by the way, is called an en dash, the width of the captial ‘N’ letter.
An ellipsis generally indicates a continuation of a thought awaits or loosely separating a follow-on thought. For example…
“Her argument started me thinking…” (Explanation of what the speaker was thinking will be illustrated later on–or not).
“Her argument started me thinking… and I always get hungry when I am thinking.”
Famously, “The Dean of Three-Dot Journalism,” Columnist Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle would link several run-on thoughts–with ellipses–between periods in his columns because one thought would run on to several others.
The em dash is used to insert usually relevant–but distinct–info into a sentence. Usually, the sentence will mean exactly the same if the phrase is removed.
For example uses, consider this reply. I awkwardly peppered it with hyphens, ellipses and em dashes.