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Parentheses

Adding explanation and clarification

set off with commas
 

 

 

Relative Emphasis

PARENTHESES

set off with commasaside comment
   Aside comments, explanations, dates and numbers

Parentheses are used in pairs. Informally, they enclose a comment that goes off the central idea of the sentence. Formally, they enclose explanations, dates and numbers.  

1. ASIDE COMMENTS

Parentheses (often overused) enclose explanations or clarification.

2. RESTATES, CLARIFIES OR TRANSLATES

Parentheses (a set of curved brackets) enclose explanations or clarification.

3. A SERIES WITHIN A  CLAUSE

A series (words, phrases, or expressions) can be set off from the sentence with parentheses.

Dashes work better to visually separate a phrase already containing commas from the main sentence. 

4. IN-TEXT LISTS

Follow these steps: (1) place whole egg in water, (2) boil one minute, (3) run cold water over the egg, (4) let it stand three minutes. 

See bulleted lists. 

5. TELEPHONE NUMBERS

After the show call 1 (888) 555-5555.  Enclose the area code.  Also 1.888.555.5555   

6. ABBREVIATIONS

The American Kayaking Association (AKA) has a newsletter.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will meet…

7. IN-TEXT CITATIONS AND DATES

Vitus Bering was a Danish-born navigator in the service of the Russian Navy. (Singleton et al. 345) See In-text Citations  

The sea was named after Vitus Bering (1681-1741).

8. GROUPING IN MATH, LOGIC OR COMPUTER CODING  

(3+4) x 6  /  3+ (4x 6)  grouping

 "(form.h1.value='hello'); (form.h2.value='correct')"  code grouping

160 lbs (US)      clarification of system

72.5 kg (kilograms)    clarification of terms

Ag – silver (argentum)    clarification of terms

4:45 (EST)    time zones    clarification of zone

COMMAS

set off with commasthought
Comments relevant to the central topic of the sentence. 

Commas set off a comment closely related, relevant, to the central idea of the sentence: modify, qualify, clarify or add details.

 

Parentheses, a form of punctuation, mark explanations or clarification.   Set off comment with commas.

 

Parentheses, a set of round brackets, add explanations or clarification.  

 

A series, words, phrases, or expressions, can be set off from the sentence with commas.

A series (e.g., words, phrases, or expressions) can be set off with parentheses and commas. See For example – e.g.  

WRITE OUT LIST

Follow these steps. Place whole egg in water, boil one minute, rinse with cold water, let stand three minutes. 

Use commas for words and phrases; use semicolons for clauses. Lists

 

WRITE OUT  "ALSO KNOWN AS"

The American Kayaking Association, AKA, has a newsletter.

The International Olympic Committee, IOC, will meet…

Use commas to include the abbreviations as an appositive.  

WRITE OUT INFORMATION

Vitus Bering was a Danish-born navigator in the service of the Russian Navy as was stated in Singleton et al. on page 345.

The sea was named after Vitus Bering who lived from 1681 to 1741.

WRITE OUT INFORMATION

The sum of three plus four multiplied by six

The international avoirdupois pound has been defined as exactly 0.45359237 kilograms.

 

Note that parentheses are not supported by some news service printers.
 (CMOS 15.44–55)   Periods are often omitted after common abbreviations for measurement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parentheses

Punctuation

 

 

 

OUTSIDE THE PARENTHESIS

Commas, semicolons, dashes that occur in a sentence should be placed outside of the closing parenthesis.

LOWERCASE INITIAL WORD

Our guests are arriving soon (or so they said).

 

 

The initial word is lowercase unless it is a proper noun or the pronoun "I".   

WITHIN A SENTENCE

Because guests are arriving soon (they're coming this Saturday) , we'll need to clean the house and buy extra food.

Because guests are arriving soon (Saturday) , we'll need to clean the house and buy extra food.

Guests are arriving soon (too soon for me)—Jan, Dean, and Annie.

Commas, semicolons, dashes that occur in a sentence should be placed outside of the closing parenthesis. 

FINAL PUNCTUATION SHARED

We need to clean the house (it is a mess now) because guests are arriving soon.

We need to clean the house(It is a mess now.) because guests are arriving soon.

A period is placed at the end of the sentence even if the enclosed text is a complete sentence. Both the enclosed text and the sentence share the final period.

Shall we invite them to stay (isn't our house a mess now), or shall we book a room at a nearby hotel for them?

We need to clean the house because guests are arriving today (OMG)!

If both the enclosed text and the sentence are marked the same, then the punctuation is placed at the end of the sentence.

ABBREVIATION

They are arriving in the evening (at 7 PM).

Note that capital AM or PM abbreviation is not followed by a period. 

INSIDE THE PARENTHESIS

Final punctuation is placed inside the closing parenthesis if the comment is independent of the other sentences.

UPPERCASE INITIAL WORD

Our guests are arriving soon (Saturday).

Our guests are arriving soon (I think).

Our guests are arriving soon. (They just called.)

The initial word is lowercase unless it is a proper noun or the pronoun "I".   

INDEPENDENT OF ANOTHER SENTENCE

Because guests are arriving soon, we'll need to clean the house. (Fortunately, they're not arriving until Saturday.) We'll also need to buy extra food.

We need to clean the house. (The guests are arriving at seven.)

We need to clean the house (The guests are arriving at seven.).

 

FINAL PUNCTUATION NOT SHARED

We need to clean the house (will you help?) because they're arriving soon.

a question within a statement

They are arriving today (can you believe it?) because they took an earlier flight!

a question within an exclamation

A question mark is placed inside the closing parenthesis if the question mark applies to the enclosed text only. The final punctuation of the sentence differs.

Shall we invite them to stay (isn't our house a mess now?) , or shall we book a room at a nearby hotel for them?

a question within a question

We need to clean the house because guests are arriving today (OMG!) !

an exclamation within an exclamation

PERIOD BELONGS TO AN ABBREVIATION

They are arriving in the evening (at 7 p.m.).

Lower case a.m. or p.m. abbreviation is followed by a period. 

 

OMG – informal, abbreviation for "oh my god".

(AP 330) (APA 4.09.) (CMOS 6.97–6.103) (MLA . 3.2.5) (GREGG 218-26)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

Error and Solution

ERROR

He's paddling to Alaska  (he could have flown!)

Incorrectly punctuated independent clause

He's paddling to Alaska. (a place he has wanted to see)

He's paddling to Alaska. (A place he has wanted to see.)

He's paddling to Alaska (from the south.)

Look what my dog did (damn!)!  excessive punctuation

SOLUTION

He's paddling to Alaska. (He could have flown!)

He's paddling to Alaska (a place he has wanted to see.)

A period is placed at the end of the sentence even if the enclosed text is a complete sentence.

He's paddling to Alaska (from the south).

Place the period outside of the closing parenthesis.

Look what my dog did (dang)! shared punctuation

Did my dog do that (dang!)? differing punctuation

Did my  dog do that? Dang!  informal – better wording

 

 

 

 

Resources

Style Manual Abbreviations: AP (Associated Press), APA (American Psychological Association), CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style), GREGG (Gregg Reference Manual); MLA (Modern Language Association)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Punctuation Notes

Parentheses

Advanced

 

 

TYPING PARENTHESES USAGE NOTES

Parentheses usually ( ) exist as standard keys on a keyboard. 

Other modes of entering a left parenthesis are: Unicode (U+0028),  Windows (Alt+0028;), HTML (()  and a right parenthesis are Unicode (U+0029),  Windows (Alt+0029;), HTML ()). 

Parentheses do not appear on some newsprint services; consequently, there is a danger of having the enclosed material misinterpreted. (AP Style Book 330)

Square brackets [ ] differ.  Brackets usually enclose material that is added by someone other than the original writer. "In quoted matter, reprints, anthologies, and other nonoriginal material, saquare brackets enclose editorial interpolations, explanations, translations of foreign terms, or corrections." (CMOS 6.104)

 

"Parentheses usually set off material that is less closely related to the rest of the sentence than that enclosed in em dashes or commas." (Chicago Manual 6.97–6.103)

"Parentheses and dashes serve many of the same functions, but they differ in one significant respect: parentheses can set off only nonessential elements, whereas dashes can set off essential and nonessential elements.…dashes emphasize; parentheses de-emphasize."  (GREGG 218–226)

"Dashes make a sharper break in the continuity of the sentence than commas do, and parentheses make a still sharper one."  (MLA 3.2.5)

"In general use parentheses around logos, as showin the datelines entry but otherwise be sparing with them.  Parentheses are jarring to the reader.…The temptation to use parentheses is a clue that a sentence is becoming contorted. Try to write it another way."  (AP 330)

Also see APA 4.09.

Style Manual Abbreviations: AP (Associated Press), APA (American Psychological Association), CMOS (Chicago Manual of Style), GREGG (Gregg Reference Manual); MLA (Modern Language Association)

 

 

Resources 

 

Style Manual Abbreviations (used in this website)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice  1

Correct or Incorrect?

 

 

 

Are the parentheses used correctly?

  1. Select the option: correct or incorrect.
  2. Read the feedback to check your response

 

1.
The abbreviation e.g. (from Latin exempli gratia) means "for example".

   

2.
Reference books (dictionaries, grammar usage, style manuals) may vary slightly in their guidelines for using punctuation.

   

3.
He finally arrived at a solution (after reading a dozen style manuals.)

   

4.
Although the use of parentheses within parentheses (usually for bibliographic purposes) is permitted in publications—especially in law—Chicago prefers brackets within parentheses (see 6.106)

   

5.
The Modern Language Association (MLA) has an online reference website.

   

6.
Albert Einstein (1879–1955) was a brilliant scientist.

   

7.
The plane arrived at 3 p.m. (EST).

   

8.
It was hot today, 35 (ºC)

   

9.
Before leaving the house: 1) turn down the heat, 2) close the windows, 3) lock the doors, 4) and set the alarm.

   

10.
If the green light does not come on (See instruction booklet.) try the steps again.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

If it sounds too good…

Scam phone call
 

 

Read for Errors

BEWARE! People have been reporting they have received phone calls from technicians from "Microsoft Assistance Center" (or so they say.)

The callers sound as if they are offering a support call. ("If it sounds to good to be true, then it probably is.")

The caller asks if the computer user is online and if the computer is performing slowly. (Who wouldn't answer, "Yes.")!

If the person responds that the computer is not running smoothly, the caller will ask the user to boot start up the system and report the start up time.

If the system is running and online, the caller will tell the user that a technician can take control of the system and clean the "virus infection". (This is a scam!!!)

If you happen to receive one of these phone calls, ask the caller for the name of the company, their location, and their phone number. Then hang up and report this to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, (IC3). 

You can file a complaint with the IC3 at (http://www.ic3.gov/).

Or you can call the local FBI office (if you are in the US) (505) 889-1300.

Remember that Microsoft will never cold call a person (call a person without reason or previous contact.)

Never, never, allow a stranger to take over your computer. (You wouldn't hand over your house keys to a stranger, would you)?

"if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is (too good to be true.)"

in err (prep. phrase) – by mistake

serial (adj.) – in a series, one thing happens after another, or something happens repeatedly

"If something sounds too good to be true, then is probably is." – This expresses suspicion about what one sees or hears.  "It is too good to be true."

 

 

 

 

Edit for errors.

  1. Edit the sentence(s) in the text box.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.
11.
BEWARE! People have been reporting they have received phone calls from technicians from "Microsoft Assistance Center" (or so they say.)


12.
The callers sound as if they are offering a support call. ("If it sounds to good to be true, then it probably is.")


13.
The caller asks if the computer user is online and if the computer is performing slowly. (Who wouldn't answer, "Yes.")!


14.
If the person responds that the computer is not running smoothly, the caller will ask the user to boot start up the system and report the start up time.


15.
If the system is running and online, the caller will tell the user that a technician can take control of the system and clean the "virus infection". (This is a scam!!!)


16.
If you happen to receive one of these phone calls, ask the caller for the name of the company, their location, and their phone number. Then hang up and report this to the Internet Crime Complaint Center, (IC3).


17.
You can file a complaint with the IC3 at (http://www.ic3.gov/).


18.
Or you can call the local FBI office (if you are in the US) (505) 889-1300.


19.
Remember that Microsoft will never cold call a person (call a person without reason or previous contact.)


20.
Never, never, allow a stranger to take over your computer. (You wouldn’t hand over your house keys to a stranger, would you)?


21.
"If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is (too good to be true.)"