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.
Example: I expect five hundred dollars ($500).
A previous Grammar Tip, now on our website as a Grammar Blog entitled, “Writing Numbers as Words,” treats this in more detail.
Example: 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 Em 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: Use full parentheses to enclose numbers of listed items in a sentence.
Example: We need an emergency room physician who can (1) think quickly, (2) treat patients respectfully, and (3) handle complaints from the public.
Note: You may also use a period with numbers: (1.) think quickly, (2.) treat…
Just be consistent within your document.
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. This contract guarantees that we will 1 deliver the merchandise and 2 pay for all damaged goods.
1. She requested (actually she pleaded) that her name be withheld.
2. This contract guarantees that we will (1) deliver the merchandise and (2) pay for all damaged goods.
Posted on Sunday, October 7th, 2007, at 10:59 pm