As you saw in the title, parentheses inside parentheses don't look too good. But, gramatically speaking, is it correct to do this? For example:

Go to this site (you should probably check it out, it's great (in case you didn't already notice) and gives you great information) to find out more about the solar system.

  • Dashes can substitute for parentheses. They're useful for adding a sense of urgency or excitement that parentheses lack, as well as introducing some visual variety into a block of text that already contains parentheses.
    – Erik Kowal
    Sep 12, 2014 at 5:36
  • This has been asked before. I remember seeing a similar question in the past. Did you look at any of the suggested questions which appeared when you were writing your question?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 12, 2014 at 5:37
  • Yes I did, and did not find anything related.
    – naiveai
    Sep 12, 2014 at 5:38
  • The use of parentheses is about punctuation, it is not about grammar. When we speak, we make all sorts of pauses and side references, but nobody says: "Open brackets" Bla.. bla.. bla.. "close brackets"! :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 12, 2014 at 5:45
  • related: Parentheses vs. double commas vs. dashes to provide additional detail and another duplicate question Double-parentheses?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Sep 12, 2014 at 5:50

3 Answers 3


Welcome eshansingh - I second Drews answer.

Although you can do that (put parens inside other parens (realizing that it starts to get very ugly (the structure, not the meaning) quickly)), your poor readers (mentally poor, not financially) will soon develop a real (not hypothetical (though perhaps parenthetical)) head(ache). (Oops that last one (head(ache)) was incorrect usage.) ugh where is my aspirin bottle?

Go to this site (you should probably check it out, it's great (in case you didn't already notice) and gives you great information) to find out more about the solar system.

[How about:]

In case you didn't already notice, this site is great and gives you great [now a redundant 'great'] information about the solar system.

[My editor brain says:]

If you haven't seen this great site already, go there to learn more about the solar system.

  • 2
    Ok.. That starts to get annoying! Great answer!
    – naiveai
    Sep 12, 2014 at 5:36
  • Thanks that (parenthesis get annoying) was the whole point. (But it was a fun reply any way ;)) Sep 12, 2014 at 5:42
  • Can you point to an authoritative reference that approves the usage of these nested parenthesis? Nov 8, 2017 at 22:00

The old typographical convention which I was told years ago by a retired typesetter, is that if one has nested parenthetical expressions, different characters are used for the inner parenthetical than the outer, so the outer expression is parenthesis, the next level of parenthesis is square brackets, and the next set after that is parentheses again, or sometimes curved brackets, so the pattern is ([{}]). I have most often seen two layers of parentheses in religious writing, where a referenced Bible verse will be quoted in full in parentheses, and the citation--chapter, verse, and translation--will follow the quotation in square brackets immediately before the closing parenthesis.

  • 1
    I still do that in tech writing, but a little voice in the back of my head tells me it's silly (or even pompous) to do so. (( But [it {does} look] really ) cool.) Sep 12, 2014 at 5:31
  • 2
    It's only silly or pompous when using these does not make the expression easier to understand.
    – brasshat
    Sep 12, 2014 at 7:53

Yes. Grammatically speaking, as long as what is inside each level of parentheses is grammatically correct, and what is outside the outermost level is also, the whole sentence is grammatically correct.

That doesn't mean that using multiple levels of parens is usually the best way to write. ;-)

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