I'm reading the "To the Little Ones" story(『小さき者へ』) and, I found this mark ―― between sentences, does it have a specific meaning, or as I thought, it's just for more space?


  • Possible duplicate japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/11127/… Jan 9, 2021 at 21:40
  • thank you so much I appreciate your help, but I still don't get it.
    – Jazz
    Jan 9, 2021 at 22:10
  • I think LonelyDriver's suggestion is a good place to start, but Jazz you are right, your question is probably not the same as that post. I have retracted my duplicate flag.
    – Eddie Kal
    Jan 9, 2021 at 22:58
  • Thank you, I think so, it's not the same, and I want to know if these dashes are making the meaning different or not.
    – Jazz
    Jan 9, 2021 at 23:25

1 Answer 1


First off, the quote you gave is not the full sentence. The full sentence runs like this:

お前たちが大きくなって、一人前の人間に育ち上った時、―― その時までお前たちのパパは生きているかいないか、それは分らない事だが ―― 父の書き残したものを繰拡(くりひろ)げて見る機会があるだろうと思う。

Note that there are two long dashes in this sentence.

The role of ダッシュ

As in English, Japanese has two kinds of dashes, both having come into the Japanese language through Latin alphabet based texts and become part of the modern Japanese text, as indicated by its loanword-marked katakana name. The en dash (enダッシュ) is pretty much used the same way as in English and a lot of other languages: to show ranges of values, and to connect related names or concepts, and it is used mostly in contexts where there is a lot of romaji or numerals. As for the em dash (emダッシュ)

  • 文と文の間、字句と字句の間に用いられて、時間の経過を表す。1
  • 括弧のように、ダッシュの対で囲んで、説明や副題などを表す。
  • 行頭に用いられて、引用を表す。
  • 単語の後に用いられて省略を表す。

Here is another more detailed summary:


  • サブタイトルを表す時
  • 話題を変える時
  • 余韻を持たせる時
  • カギ括弧で囲むほどではない語句を分離する時
  • 時間的、空間的な経過を表す時
  • 「〜から〜まで」という範囲を表す時


  • Used with a subtitle
  • Marks a change of topic
  • Shows that there are things unsaid
  • Used to bracket words when they are too long to put in square brackets
  • Used to show the passage of time or the traverse of space
  • In a similar way to 「〜から〜まで」, shows ranges

Dashes in this sentence

We can now see that in your specific case, the em dashes function to bracket words when they are too long to put in square brackets. The narrator is writing to his children in epistolary form. He interrupts himself and changes the topic and the mood by saying, "I don't know if I will be around when you grow up." He prefaces this interjection with an em dash and ends it with another one. In other words this is a parenthetical. This is actually quite common in literature.


  1. ダッシュ (記号)

  2. 約物の表記ルールを理解する(約物の意味とは)


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