Grammar GuideParenthesesThe use of parentheses

The use of parentheses

The use of parentheses

Parentheses are those curved lines or curved brackets that surround part or all of a sentence. They express a minor (some might say parenthetical) thought on a subject. Unlike a regular statement, one marked by parentheses is usually an additional thought, aside, or statement that isn’t essential to the topic at hand. When you use parentheses, you always have one at the beginning and one at the end.

Consider the following:

  • When I saw the pink-frosted donut, my mouth began to water (sort of like Homer Simpson).

The Homer Simpson reference isn’t essential to the meaning of the sentence, but it’s a humorous aside to the reader. Therefore, I put it in parentheses. They’re a great way to insert quick jokes in your writing.

You can also use parentheses to list descriptive information, such as in this example:

  • I ordered myself some coffee (large with two creams and two sugars) to go with my donut.

Finally, here’s an example of how parentheses are used to add additional context to a statement:

  • When I arrived in New York City, I had the overwhelming urge to shout, “Go Yankees!” (“Go Mets!” never crossed my mind.)