myQBook English Grammar Concepts

Parentheses ( )

Parentheses are the detour marks of the writing road. They signal the beginning and end of information that clarifies or adds unnecessary information to the sentence. Parentheses have three main uses:

1.       To set off information that helps clarify or explain the sentence but is not necessary to it.

2.       To set off unnecessary information that would not flow well in the sentence.

3.       To give the full name of or provide an acronym.

Consider the following examples:

Example 1: My great aunt Sally only saw me when I was a baby (in 2003).

Example 2: It is Friday (my favorite day of the week), but I have a doctor’s appointment before I can relax.

Example 3: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently landed a rover on Mars.

In example 1, the information in the parentheses is clarifying exactly when the writer's aunt last saw her. However, it isn’t completely necessary to the meaning of the sentence to know the exact year the aunt saw her.

In example 2, the information in parentheses is unnecessary and will not flow well in the sentence, but the writer still wants to add it. Therefore, it is in parentheses.

In example 3, the information in parentheses is providing a commonly used acronym.

Refer to the next grade concepts for information about using other punctuation with parentheses.


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