Punctuation with parentheses

 

Q:

I always have to stop to think whether the period goes before or after the "close parentheses," as in:

He then formed the Hot Cross Buns (an award-winning group that went on to win fourteen awards).

He then formed the Hot Cross Buns (an award-winning group that went on to win fourteen awards.)

How do you do this?

Rachel
grammarexchange@earthlink.net

A:

This topic has never given me any trouble. I simply decide what the parenthetical material supplies and punctuate accordingly.

In the example given about Hot Cross Buns, the parenthetical material gives information only about Hot Cross Buns. The sentence is complete without the parenthetical material, so the period follows the closing parenthesis:

He then formed the Hot Cross Buns (an award-winning group that went on to win fourteen awards).

This is the same as if the parenthetical material were not included-it is extra information.

Another way to do it is to decide whether the material inside the parentheses is structurally complete-that is, is it a complete sentence on its own? As the Hot Cross Buns sentence is written above, it is not a complete sentence, so the period belongs after the closing parenthesis.

If, however, you change the wording to "This award-winning group went on to win fourteen awards," the sentence would be complete. You would then have two complete sentences, in which case the period belongs inside the closing parenthesis:

He then formed the Hot Cross Buns. (This award-winning group went on to win fourteen awards.)

Janet Johnston

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