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I have two complete sentences; the second is in parentheses, essentially a comment on the first. Where do I place the periods? I would use this:

They played opera. (I covered my ears.)

Is this punctuation correct?

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1  
This doesn't get to be a real problem until you have a parenthetical paragraph or two that fit entirely within a single sentence. Sure, footnotes sound like they might be an answer, but I have a tendency to nest parentheses so deeply -- even in everyday speech -- that the reader or listener is likely to think I've completely lost the point until they reach what looks like the end of a very long Lisp program. (They usually end in a forest of closing parentheses.) It's not unlike the proverbial German sentence ending, at long last, in a machine-gun burst of verbs. –  bye Feb 21 '11 at 8:10

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Punctuation within parentheses

If your parentheses enclose a sentence-within-a-sentence, don't use a period within the parentheses. Do, however, use a question mark or an exclamation point if it is called for.

Mother love (hers was fierce) ruined the young boy's life.

They finally said (why couldn't they have admitted it earlier?) that she had been there.

The wedding reception (what a fiasco!) ended abruptly.

If the parentheses enclose a complete sentence that stands alone, keep the period within the parentheses.

(Her father was the only one who didn't attend.)

From Cliffsnotes

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The sentence can also end with a parenthesized sentence. What should we do then? Should we put the dot after the parenthesis (like this)? Or should we do otherwise (like that?) Maybe some kind of mix (which looks ugly!)? –  Thaddee Tyl Jul 21 '11 at 8:37

The punctuation marks are correct.
When a full sentence is placed between parentheses, the period is placed inside them too. For the sentences surrounding the parenthetical one, the rule is the usual one.

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