What Are Backslashes (\) And How Do You Use Them?

This shelter is reserved for dogs and\or cats. Whoops! Looks like someone got their slashes mixed up and used a backslash instead of a forward slash. Unlike the forward slash, the backslash just doesn’t belong in writing and instead finds a home in computing.

What is a backslash?

A backslash is a symbol that resembles a line slanted toward the left ( \ ). It is a “backwards slash” that is the reverse of a forward slash ( / ).

The backslash has no usage in formal or informal writing. It is not considered to be a punctuation mark and shouldn’t be confused with the forward slash (often just called a slash), which is used as a punctuation mark in writing. Punctuation is the system of marks, symbols, and characters that we use to make writing more clear and easier to read.

The backslash is primarily used in computer code and programming. In Windows operating systems, for example, the backslash is used in the names of files and folders. So, you might follow the file path of C:\”Program Files”\Google\Chrome\chrome.exe in order to find the application that starts the Google Chrome web browser located in the C: drive on your computer, to give just one example. In computer coding languages, the backslash is often used to give commands. For example, the command \t might be used to enter a tab.

Do you know the difference between the backslash and forward slash? Take this quiz and find out!

Confused about punctuation?

Not sure if you’re using commas, colons, or slashes correctly? Check your writing on Thesaurus.com’s Grammar Coach™. This writing tool uses machine learning technology uniquely designed to catch grammar and spelling errors. Its Synonym Swap will find the best nouns, adjectives, and more to help say what you really mean, guiding you toward clearer, stronger, writing.

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