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Using Parentheses

 

Techniques > Use of language > Punctuation > Using Parentheses

Method | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Method

Use parentheses () to add further information to a sentence that is clearly separated from the rest of the sentence. This creates a 'sentence within a sentence'.

Parenthesized text can include multiple sentences, but should not run on for too long.

Aside

Use parentheses to indicate 'asides', comments which may have a secretive element to them, which are thus spoken at a lower volume (and perhaps with a conspiratorial hand to the side of the mouth).

Example

She is going with John (you know, the handsome one) to the conference. (aside)

Discussion

Parentheses () are curved brackets that add additional information to a sentence. The parenthesized contents may completely be removed without changing the meaning of sentence.

When a parenthesis appears to a reader, the current text is 'paused' whilst the parenthesized text is processed. To keep the paused text in memory requires cognitive effort to stop it fading. Thus any inserted text should usually be kept short in order to reduce this effort and any chance of forgetting the main text.

As an 'aside', parentheses are more conspiratorial than dashes or commas.

Other forms of bracketing include [square brackets], {braces} and <angle brackets>. Square brackets give a greater degree of separation and are sometimes used for third-person commenting of text. Braces are used in some technical situations. Angle brackets (really only greater-than and less-than signs) are often used to signify something that is to be replaced, such as in a form where <surname> is to be replaced (including the angle brackets) with somebody's surname.

See also

Using Commas, Using Dashes

 

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