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When a sentence begins with a parenthetical clause (uncommon, I'm sure), how should the following portion be capitalized? My thought is it would be either

(In my opinion, at least[,]) the play was terrible.


(In my opinion, at least[,]) The play was terrible.

Since "The play was terrible" is a complete sentence, and "In my opinion, at least" is a parenthetical attachment, should "the" be capitalized? Should a sentence even start with a parenthetical clause?

Additionally (I will remove this part from the question if it turns out to be too separate an issue), should the comma after "at least" be present? Were the sentence written to include the parenthetical statement, it would be included, but it seems very strange to me to end a parenthetical statement that way.

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I don't see how ever be valid to start a sentence with a parenthetical clause in "standard" English. The title of this question could feasibly be written using [square brackets], which are borrowed from technical specification syntax to enclose "syntactically valid, but optional" elements. OP himself uses this style for his comment, but it's definitely not normal "grammar". So I think the question is effectively meaningless, since it's trying to work in two different frameworks at the same time. –  FumbleFingers Oct 28 '11 at 1:48

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Since the parenthesis is part of the sentence, and comes first, you should not capitalize the the since it is in the middle of the sentence:

(In my opinion, at least) the play was terrible.

This looks rather ghastly, though, so you shouldn't start a sentence with parentheses. Instead you could say:

The play was terrible (in my opinion, at least).

Also, it is bad form to end a parenthetical fragment with punctuation. The ending parenthesis takes care of any separation that the comma would otherwise be needed to indicate.

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Thanks for the second part of the answer. I meant to put that in my question but got distracted by the comma issue. –  Jim Oct 28 '11 at 0:23
"The play (in my opinion, at least) was terrible." Or better still, "The play, in my opinion at least, was terrible." However, I think the question was about the (hypothetical) case where a sentence does begin with a parenthetical. –  Kris Oct 27 '12 at 13:51

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