A parenthesis is additional information added into a sentence as an explanation or an afterthought. A parenthesis can be shown using two brackets, two commas or two dashes — the choice is yours. Here are some guidelines:|
For Parenthesis, Use Commas, Dashes or BracketsA parenthesis is additional information added into a sentence as an explanation or an afterthought. For example (parenthesis shown in bold):
Try reading each example with the parenthesis removed. It will still make sense.
Jamie Buxton, who fainted in church during his wedding, apologized to his wife by booking two tickets to New York.
(The parentheses chosen by the writer were commas. However, brackets or
dashes could equally have been used.)
At midnight last night, Skip (a guard dog for Bonds Ltd in Bury) hospitalized two burglars before returning to eat the steaks they had thrown him.
(The writer has chosen brackets, because there is already a comma in
Dave Jenkins' best friend, Adam Wright-Smith, stabbed him through the
heart whilst testing a knife-proof jacket; Dave is expected to make a full
(The writer has chosen commas, possibly because there are already two
hyphens in the sentence, and dashes look similar to hyphens.)
dashes used for parenthesis
However, As a ResultInserted comments such as however, therefore, as a result, as far as I am concerned, for all intents and purposes, subsequently, so to speak, etc. fall into the category of parenthesis too. (As a rule, brackets are not used with these.)
The slow cooker I purchased at your store is, for all intents and purposes,
Darius, on the other hand, writes his own songs.
It rained all day and, as a result, the hut collapsed.
On a happier note, her latest song — Wind Me Up Baby — is, according to
those in the know, expected to enter the charts in the top 5.
(Wind Me Up Baby is parenthesis, and so is according to those in the know. Try reading the sentence with them removed. It still makes sense.)
A parenthesis adds more information to a sentence:
Kent Oliver won his first race on Tuesday.
(There is no parenthesis in this example.)
Kent Oliver — the only professional jockey from Jersey — won his first race on Tuesday.
(The words the only professional jockey from Jersey add more information. In this example, the parenthesis is between two dashes.)
Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, was allergic to carrots.
(The words the voice of Bugs Bunny add more information. In this example, the parenthesis is between two commas.)
HELP — WHICH ONE?
It is your choice whether to use commas, brackets or dashes for parentheses. Below are some guidelines:
Dashes — parenthesis easily seen, but dashes look a little stark
Commas — normal-looking sentence, but commas are often confused with other commas in the sentence
Brackets — parenthesis easily seen, but brackets make official letters look a little unorganized
END THE PARENTHESIS
Always remember to end a parenthesis. When using commas or dashes, writers often forget to end the parenthesis. This is as wrong as not closing a pair of brackets.
Danny, however had sharp features and greasy hair.
(another comma required after however)
The zander — one of the fastest fish in British waters often schooltogether around the edges of lakes.
(another dash required after waters)
PARENTHESIS IN APPOSITION
The term in apposition just means the same. When a parenthesis is the same thing as whatever it follows, it is called parenthesis in apposition.
Kent Oliver — the only professional jockey fromJersey — won his first race on Tuesday.
(Kent Oliver is the professional jockey. This is parenthesis inapposition.)
At midnight last night, Skip (a guard dog for Bonds Ltd in Bury) hospitalised two intruders who broke in the company yard.
(Skip is the guard dog. This is parenthesis in apposition.)
Jamie Buxton, who fainted in church during his wedding, apologized to his wife...
(This is not parenthesis in apposition.)