In English you can use a number of different styles to add parenthetical remarks. For example:

  • Juventus, as you may know, has won the most Scudetti.
  • Some would say it's 29 (and technically they're right).
  • Others however claim it's 31 — although they're usually die-hard Juventus supporters.

Is the dash style of parenthetical remarks also allowed by Italian grammar? I know I've casually used it from time to time and no one seemed confused by it, but that doesn't make it right.

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    OT: those claiming it's 31 are doing to sports what revisionists are doing to history and creationists to science.
    – o0'.
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 12:57
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    @lohoris let's not go there. Question edited :-)
    – badp
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 13:00
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    @Sklivvz That's British typography. In Italy the en-dash is frequently used instead of the em-dash (with spaces at either end, usually). I suspect that the Wikipedia page you refer is more or less a translation from the English one.
    – egreg
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 21:13
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    @Sklivvz Don't trust it.wikipedia; many entries are simply translations from English.
    – egreg
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 21:16

2 Answers 2


Traditional Italian usage admits the n-dash in couples only. To rewrite one of your examples: «Juventus – as you may know – has won the most Scudetti». The single dash to introduce a clause at the end of a sentence is quite recently borrowed from English, but doesn't belong to usual Italian punctuation.

To quote from Bice Mortara Garavelli, Prontuario di punteggiatura, Laterza 2003:

Come marca iniziale di una parentetica inserita alla fine di una frase si può trovare una lineetta priva della lineetta terminale correlativa. Tradizionalmente, per un inserto che si trovi in tale posizione, si preferiscono alle lineette le parentesi (una in apertura e una in chiusura seguita dal punto finale), oppure la virgola iniziale [...].

  • you speak of m-dash (—) but use the n-dash (–) in your example. Actually, AFAIK your example is correct, and you should replace m-dash with n-dash in your first sentence. BTW, in the Apple keyboard layout the n-dash is "command dash", while the m-dash is "command shift dash." Commented Nov 15, 2015 at 23:25

I used to attend a school for translators, and all the translators who gave us lessons used to tell us that the m-dash is actually allowed by Italian grammar but no more in use, so we SHOULD NOT use it while translating from English or German; instead, we could turn it into brackets, commas or other punctuation, as the case requires.

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    I assure you that I am translating a book from English to Italian and we are leaving all parenthetical m-dashes, while converting the single ones to comma or colons.
    – mau
    Commented Mar 15, 2014 at 16:48

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