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Periods and Parentheses

Sometimes they go inside; sometimes they go outside.

By
Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read
parentheses

When 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)?

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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!)

Get more tips like this in The Grammar Devotional:

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E-book: Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, Apple iBook

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

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show.

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