Other Punctuation



Parentheses

Parentheses can be used to interject remarks or other information into a sentence.

Learning Objectives

List the uses of parentheses

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Parentheses can be used to set off supplementary, interjected, explanatory or illustrative remarks.
  • The words placed inside the parentheses are not necessary to understanding or completing the sentence.
  • Square brackets are mainly used to enclose explanatory or missing material, which is usually added by someone other than the original author.
  • Parentheses are sometimes used to enclose numbers within a sentence.

Key Terms

  • parentheses: Punctuation marks used in matched pairs to set apart or interject additional text into a sentence.

Parentheses

Parentheses can be used to set off supplementary, interjected, explanatory, or illustrative remarks. They are tall punctuation marks “()” used in matched pairs within text, to set apart or interject other text.

The words placed inside the parentheses are not necessary to understanding or completing the sentence. The words within the parentheses could be removed and a complete sentence would still exists.

Parentheses may also be nested (usually with one set (such as this) inside another set). This is not common in formal writing (though sometimes other brackets [especially square brackets] will be used for one or more inner set of parentheses [in other words, secondary {or even tertiary} phrases can be found within the main parenthetical sentence]).

There are many ways to use parentheses.

Interrupted Sentence

  • Jimmy (who we all know is smart) said we should keep searching.
  • Be sure to call me (extension 2104) when you get this message.
  • Copyright affects how much regulation is enforced (Lessig 2004).
  • Sen. John McCain (R., Arizona) ran for president in 2008.

Any punctuation inside parentheses or other brackets is independent of the rest of the text. When several sentences of supplemental material are used in parentheses, the ending punctuation is placed within the parentheses. For example:

  • Mrs. Pennyfarthing (What? Yes, that was her name!) was my landlady.

Enumeration

Parentheses are sometimes used to enclose numbers within a sentence. The purpose of using numbers within parentheses is to highlight multiple points in one sentence.

  • All applicants must submit (1) a cover letter, (2) a resume, (3) a list of references, (4) an essay, and (5) letters of recommendation.

The numbers within parentheses highlight the items applicants need to include. They are intended to add clarity to the sentence.

Square Brackets

Square brackets are mainly used to enclose explanatory or missing material, which is usually added by someone other than the original author. This is especially prevalent in quoted text. For example:

  • “I appreciate it [i.e., the honor], but I must refuse. “
  • “The future of psionics [i.e., mental powers that affect physical matter] is in doubt.”

Modifying Quotations

Square brackets may also be used to modify quotations. For example, if referring to someone’s statement “I hate to do laundry,” one could write: He “hate[s] to do laundry.”

The bracketed expression “[sic]” is used after a quote or reprinted text to indicate the passage appears exactly as in the original source; a bracketed ellipsis “[…]” is often used to indicate deleted material; bracketed comments indicate when original text has been modified for clarity. For example:

  • “I’d like to thank [several unimportant people] and my parentals [sic] for their love, tolerance […] and assistance [emphasis added].”

Ending Punctuation

Ending punctuation identifies the end of a sentence, and most commonly includes periods, question marks, and exclamation marks.

Learning Objectives

Identify the correct punctuation to end a given sentence

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Ending punctuation comprises symbols that indicate the end of a sentence, such as periods, question marks, and exclamation points.
  • Periods are used at the end of declarative or imperative sentences.
  • Question marks come at the end of sentences that make a request or ask a direct question. Declarative sentences sometimes contain direct questions.
  • A sentence ending in an exclamation mark may be an exclamation, an imperative, or may indicate astonishment.

Key Terms

  • question mark: Punctuation at the end of a sentence that asks a direct question.
  • exclamation mark: A punctuation mark usually used after an interjection or exclamation to indicate strong feelings or high volume (shouting).
  • period: The punctuation mark that indicates the end of a sentence.

Ending punctuation comprises symbols that indicate the end of a sentence. Most commonly, these are periods, question marks, and exclamation points. Ending punctuation can also be referred to as end marks, stops, or terminal punctuation.

There are three main types of ending punctuation: the period, the question mark, and the exclamation mark. A period (.) is the punctuation mark that indicates the end of a sentence. The question mark (?) replaces a period at the end of a sentence that asks a direct question. The exclamation mark (!) is a punctuation mark usually used after an interjection or exclamation to indicate strong feelings or high volume (shouting), and often marks the end of a sentence.

Period

Periods are used at the end of declarative or imperative sentences. Recall that declarative sentences make statements and imperative sentences give commands. Periods can also be used at the end of an indirect question. Indirect questions are designed to ask for information without actually asking a question. Let’s review some examples.

  • My dog is a golden retriever. (declarative sentence)
  • Go get your dog and bring him inside the house. (imperative sentence)
  • Janet’s mom and dad want to know what she is doing. (indirect question)
  • “Get some paper towels,” she ordered. (declarative sentence containing an imperative statement)

Periods are also used in abbreviations. For example, “doctor” is abbreviated “Dr.” and “junior” is abbreviated “Jr.” Remember that if an abbreviation that uses a period comes at the end of a sentence you do not add a period—the period with the abbreviation serves as the ending punctuation as well.

Question Mark

Question marks come at the end of sentences that make a request or ask a direct question. Declarative sentences sometimes contain direct questions.

  • What is Janet doing? (direct question)
  • Her mother asked, “What are you doing, Janet?” (declarative sentence with a direct question)

Exclamation Mark

A sentence ending in an exclamation mark may be an exclamation, an imperative, or may indicate astonishment. Like question marks, exclamation marks can be included within declarative sentences. Let’s review some examples.

  • Wow! (exclamation)
  • Boo! (exclamation)
  • Stop! (imperative)
  • They were the footprints of a gigantic duck! (astonishment)
  • He yelled, “Stay off the grass!” (declarative sentence that includes an exclamation)

Exclamation marks are occasionally placed mid-sentence with a function similar to a comma, for dramatic effect, although this usage is obsolescent: “On the walk, oh! there was a frightful noise.”

Informally, exclamation marks may be repeated for additional emphasis (“That’s great!!!”), but this practice is generally considered unacceptable in formal prose. The exclamation mark is sometimes used in conjunction with the question mark. This can be in protest or astonishment (“Out of all places, the squatter-camp?!”); again, this is informal. Overly frequent use of the exclamation mark is generally considered poor style, for it distracts the reader and devalues the mark’s significance.

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Cut out all those exclamation points.: The famous author F. Scott Fitzgerald was not a fan of exclamation points; in his words: “Cut out all those exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own jokes.”