Parentheses indicate that the writer feels that the material contained within is of less importance or should be deemphasized.
Rule: Use parentheses to enclose words or figures that clarify or are used as an aside.
I expect five hundred dollars ($500).
Note: Another grammar tip entitled “Writing Numbers as Both Numerals and Words,” treats this in more detail.
He finally answered (after taking five minutes to think) that he did not understand the question.
Rule: Use commas, not parentheses, around an interruption to indicate it is of equal importance with the rest of the sentence.
Example: He finally answered, after taking five minutes to think, that he did not understand the question.
Rule: Use long dashes around an interruption that you wish to emphasize.
Example: He finally answered—after taking five minutes to think—that he did not understand the question.
You really can “hear” the differences in tone just by the choice of punctuation, can’t you?
Rule: Periods go inside parentheses if an entire sentence is inside the parentheses.
Please read the analysis. (I enclosed it as Attachment A.)
Please read the analysis (Attachment A).
Please read the analysis (enclosed as Attachment A).
Place parentheses where needed.
1. She requested actually she pleaded that her name be withheld.
2. We arrived home the train was three hours late at midnight.
Pop Quiz Answers
1. She requested (actually she pleaded) that her name be withheld.
2. We arrived home (the train was three hours late) at midnight.
Posted on Sunday, October 7, 2007, at 10:59 pm