Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have read the few questions about punctuations in parenthesis, but I think none of them answers my question. I've looked at:

If I have the following sentence structure (modified from one of the earlier question), is the following punctuation correct? Should I put the period within the parenthesis since it is a full sentence, or don't put it because it is still going on with the main sentence?

This morning I was distracted by a plane (or was it Superman? I'm not very sure.), so I tripped.

share|improve this question
2  
You could use dashes... — –  Mariano Jun 25 '12 at 4:56
    
If I had to do it at all, I'd do it the way you have punctuated it. –  Barrie England Jun 25 '12 at 5:55
    
In this example, I'd at least consider editing out the "I'm not very sure" part. Doesn't the question mark infer that? "This morning I was distracted by a plane (or was it Superman?), so I tripped." (That might fix this instance of the problem; however, I realize it doesn't answer your general question.) P.S. +1 for doing the research first, and then providing the three links to questions that come close to addressing this issue. –  J.R. Jun 25 '12 at 9:44
    
You have four possibilities '.),' or '),' or '.)' or ')' — the first is ugly, while the second and fourth leave the sentence inside the parenthesis with no ending punctuation, so I'd choose the third as the least unacceptable alternative. –  Peter Shor Jun 25 '12 at 12:24
add comment

1 Answer

I would punctuate around parentheses the same way as dashes.

With dashes, the sentence would look like this:

This morning I was distracted by a plane — or was it Superman? I'm not very sure — so I tripped.

Therefore, with parentheses it would be:

This morning I was distracted by a plane (or was it Superman? I'm not very sure) so I tripped.

That said, I prefer dashes here, because the middle phrase clearly relates to the topic of the sentence. Parentheses are better reserved for signaling a stronger digression from the main topic, e.g. —

This morning I was distracted by a plane (they're built in a factory the next town over) so I tripped.

share|improve this answer
    
Interesting, no one brought up using dash in that earlier question. So is it also better to have I was distracted by a plane - or was it Superman? instead of I was distracted by a plane (or was it Superman?). But I think the meaning is a bit different here? I feel using dash put a lot more emphasis on the question –  ananda Jun 25 '12 at 6:38
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.