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Wednesday, April 18, 2012



It is a form of punctuation that looks like this: ( )

Used sparingly, parentheses add clarity and/or additional information to sentences:

1) Use parentheses to enclose clarifying information or an aside.
     For example: Edwayne paid Junior and PeteJoe twenty-five smackaroos ($25) for the snake rattler they delivered, no questions asked, no mama notified. Snake rattlers on sticks (an alleged Native-American, low-country art form) sold great to the slick tourists with their whiny-mouthed tots.

2) Use complete parentheses to enclose the numbers for a list.
     For example: Rattlers on sticks are used for (1) fending off evil spirits, (2) calling down the rains, and (3) scaring little sisters.

3) Caution! Watch your period placement. If parentheses enclose an aside or a clarification at the end of the sentence, the period is placed outside of the parentheses. If parentheses enclose an entire sentence, the period is enclosed within the parentheses.
     For example: For certain, if PeteJoe and Junior's mama caught them selling snake rattlers, she would switch them good (and she had a nose for detecting the smell of snake). (The best plan of action for the boys was to use some of their profit to buy lemons for scrubbing their hands.) But Edwayne paid those youngins so well, they were willing to risk the snake's bite and their mama's venom.

Parentheses are a lot easier to explain than mixed conditionals. Hallelujah. What are the common misconceptions about parentheses? Why would we not want to overuse them, as I surely did in my example above?

Tomorrow: Quotation Marks

This post is brought to you by the April A to Z Blog Challenge. Check back all through April for daily discussions of writing conventions.


mybabyjohn/Delores said...

You are going to have to compile all these posts into one helpful little on line booklet.

Jo said...

That's a good idea. My little grammar helper.

Darlene said...

I love to use parentheses (and I fear I may overuse them). But, at least now I know where to put the period.

Brianna said...

Great tips! I edit dissertations and have found your tips this month to be great reminders. Very helpful :)

Wendy said...

A grammarian! Where have you been all my life? Grammar Police Unite! Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting.

Petra said...

I agree with Delores. :-)

Lisa said...

I too, agree with Delores! Thanks for doing this. I'm just now finding you on a to z blogging and boy am I glad I did!
I'm going back to see what you wrote on C. I'm a comma challenged writer!

Michelle Pickett said...

I've always had trouble knowing where to place punctuation when using parenthesis. Thank you for the explanation!

Michelle :)

Dana said...

Love these posts! :)

Christine Rains said...

Very helpful post. Thank you!

Paula Martin said...

Good advice, especially about where to place the punctuation.

DayDreamer said...

Good A - Z Challenge topic, grammar is a favourite subject of mine. I don't overdo parentheses but do love to use them. Overused in a sentence I guess we'd end up getting too confused, going off on too many tangents.

Huntress said...

Great tips. To the point (and very necessary).

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lucy .. I don't think I get these wrong - but I could be easily caught out!! Good point about putting them together into an ebook ..

They are great - good subject .. cheers Hilary

William Kendall said...

I won't really use these in my formal writing, but I get a lot of use out of them in blogs, when I'm writing an aside or a snarky remark as an add-on.

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