To Enclose Parenthetical Matter

Parenthetical matter is a word or construction (which may or may not be grammatically related to the rest of the sentence) sufficiently remote in relevance to require a stronger pause than a comma would supply:

Even for those who can do their work in bed (like journalists), still more for those whose work cannot be done in bed (as, for example, the professional harpooner of whales), it is obvious that the indulgence must be very Occasional. G. K. Chesterton

Parenthetical remarks of this may also be punctuated with be a source of interest and va riety as well as of necessary information. Moreover, such intrusions loosen the rhythm of a sentence, suggesting more interesting patterns of speech. The effectiveness of parenthetical remarks, however, depends on their scarcity. Using one in every other sentence costs you whatever advantage the device had, and overused parentheses become an irritating mannerism.

When a parenthetical remark comes inside a sentence, any stop that follows it must be set outside the closing parenthesis:

In the last act of the play (or so it seems to me, for know there can be differences on this point), Hamlet accepts his world and we discover a different man. Maynard Mack

When a parenthetical remark closes a sentence, the is also placed outside:

I say only that a considerable number of [TV] set-owners are far from being entirely satisfied (those who are willing to pay and those who hardly ever use their sets). Gilbert Seldes

However, if an entirely separate sentence is placed within quotes, the period which closes it (or the query or exclamation) must go inside:

Many of winter's plants are partial to the cleared sides of roads. (The roots—which is what most winter foods are—are not subject to the same kind of road pollution as are the leaves.)

Ruth Rudner

[> Parentheses to Enclose Numbers or Letters Marking a Series

When numbers or letters introduce the items in a list they should be put within parentheses to differentiate them from the text:

We must do three things: (1) study the route thoroughly, (2) purchase supplies and equipment, and (3) hire a reliable guide.

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