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Growth solves (nearly) all problems.

The above sentence can be taken to mean "Growth solves nearly all problems" or "Growth solves all problems".

But, is the usage of parentheses correct? If yes, why?

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Note that your question actually should be written as, "Is the usage of parentheses correct?" As for your sentence, if you're wanting to emphasize that growth almost, but not quite, solves all problems, I think the parentheses are used correctly. I don't think, however, you can interpret the sentence to mean "Growth solves all problems." Adding the parenthetical "nearly" changes the meaning. –  JLG Jun 4 '13 at 16:38
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The convention of using parentheses to mark optional qualifications is (fairly) widespread, at least in academia. Other genres have other conventions, of course. NB: this is only for writing. In speech, one would either use the word or not, and indicate by intonation, rhythm, gesture, facial expression, or other signal precisely the degree of optionality intended. –  John Lawler Jun 4 '13 at 16:47
    
I'm still not sure what the question here is. The sentence cannot be taken to mean "Growth solves all problems". Whether a word is in parentheses or not, it still adds to the meaning of the sentence. –  RegDwigнt Jun 6 '13 at 9:05
    
I'm now closing this pending further clarification. Please specify exactly what thought you want to express, what alternatives you have considered, which of them you consider incorrect or possibly incorrect, and for what reasons. –  RegDwigнt Jun 6 '13 at 9:08
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closed as not a real question by RegDwigнt Jun 6 '13 at 9:05

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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The grammar of the sentence with parentheses is impeccable. I believe you are also asking how to distinguish the connotations of

Growth solves (nearly) all problems.

and

Growth solves nearly all problems.

The best answer I can give you is that the first version suggests more strongly than the latter that the exceptional cases (that are not solved) are few and unimportant. The writer would have written that growth solves all problems, except for a few that he saw as afterthoughts, or as tangential. This implication is weaker in the second version.

To be more specific, the latter could quite naturally be followed by

The unsolved problems, however, are devastating.

The former does not read as well in conjunction with this, except as a deliberate and ironic attempt to first minimize the exceptions, and then emphasize them.

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