Parenthesis

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What Is Parenthesis? (with Examples)

A typical parenthesis is a word, phrase, or clause inserted into a sentence as an explanation or afterthought. When a parenthesis is removed, the surrounding text is still grammatically sound.

A parenthesis is usually offset with parentheses (i.e., round brackets), commas, or dashes. These are called parenthetical punctuation marks.

Not all examples of parenthesis sit within a sentence. For example, a parenthesis can be one or more sentences inserted into a paragraph.

A parenthesis is sometimes called an interrupter as it interrupts the flow of text.

Examples of Parenthesis

Here are some examples of parenthesis (shaded):

Parenthesis Offset with Parentheses (Brackets) When parentheses (round brackets) are used to offset a parenthesis, the parenthesis is easily seen. However, some writers feel that parentheses can make formal texts look unorganized.

Parenthesis Offset with Commas When commas are used to offset a parenthesis, it keeps the focus on the surrounding text. As commas play other roles in sentences (e.g., to separate list items and to offset adverbial phrases), readers can sometimes become confused over where a parenthesis starts and ends.

Also, if a parenthesis itself contains a comma or commas, it is advisable to avoid commas to offset it. For example: Parenthesis Offset with Dashes When dashes are used to offset a parenthesis, it increases the focus on the parenthesis.

OFFSET YOUR PARENTHESIS WITH TWO PARENTHETICAL PUNCTUATION MARKS

A parenthesis is offset with two parentheses, two commas, or two dashes. If a parenthesis ends a sentence, the second one in the pair is dropped. This is the only time parenthetical punctuation marks do not appear in pairs. It is a common mistake (especially with commas) to use just one. .
YOU DON'T HAVE TO OFFSET A SHORT, OBVIOUS PARENTHESIS

If a parenthesis is short and obvious, it is acceptable to use no parenthetical punctuation. For example:

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See Also

More about round brackets More about dashes What are parenthetical punctuation marks? Glossary of grammatical terms