this is something i surely should know by now but i've somehow found a way to avoid it being a problem up to this point. is there an easy way to connect these lines so that they look as if they are branching off from the horizontal line? i've tried everything in the 'Align' toolbar but nothing is really giving me what i want. thank YOUUU
If you want them to remain strokes then you can try this- first off, turn off smart guides (View> Smart Guides and uncheck), select the top anchor point on one of the vertical lines and nudge it either up or down as needed with the up/ down arrow keys on your keyboard. This may require you go to Illustrator> Preferences> General and reduce the "Keyboard Increment" to a pretty small number- this will depend on your drawing/ stroke size. You can position the Stroke End Caps to be hidden under the horizontal line. Strokes cannot actually be joined in a middle section. They can only be joined to an open end point.
If you do not require those vertical lines to remain as strokes then you can go Object> Expand to turn them into separate filled paths . Then go to Window> Pathfinder> Unite to actually join them into one shape.