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Periods and Parentheses

Sometimes they go inside; sometimes they go outside.

By
Mignon Fogarty,
February 21, 2011

parenthesesWhen a parenthetical statement falls at the end of a sentence, the placement of the terminal punctuation depends on whether the words inside the parentheses are a complete sentence.

If the words inside the parentheses aren't a complete sentence, the period, question mark, or exclamation point that ends the sentence goes after the parenthesis:

  • Squiggly likes chocolate (and nuts).

  • Could Aardvark bring home candy (quickly)?

If the words inside the parentheses are a complete sentence, the period, question mark, or exclamation point that ends the sentence goes inside the parenthesis:

  • Bring chocolate. (Squiggly likes sweets.)

  • Buy candy. (Bring it quickly!)

The Grammar DevotionalGet more tips like this in The Grammar Devotional:

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Image: Helvetica Paintings: ( ) Parentheses, Shane Becker at Flickr. CC BY 2.0.

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