Avoid Overusing Parentheses

I’m not sure why so many writers say what they have to say, then add comments in parentheses as if they wanted to whisper them or offer them as an aside. Parentheses are good to have in your punctuation tool box, but be sure you don’t overuse them.

Parentheses are used to set off related matter. However, if the matter is closely related, opt for commas instead of parentheses.

Another problem area is how to use other punctuation with parentheses. The rule is “Parentheses do not impact the punctuation of the sentence.” What does that mean? That means that if the ENTIRE sentence is parenthetical, the period goes inside the parentheses along with the entire sentence. Example: (She didn’t really care what he thought.).

If part of the sentence is parenthetical, but not the entire sentence, the end punctuation goes outside the parentheses. Example: She didn’t really care what he thought (or so she told herself).

Again, the parentheses does not impact the punctuation of a sentence. Thus, if you are including a parentheses-enclosed statement in a sentence that requires a comma, put the comma after the parentheses. Example: She told him she’d call (and she did), but he didn’t answer.

Parentheses can be helpful and use them when you need to, but don’t overdo it. Your reader will thank you.

Happy writing!


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