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This website, upon crossing the milestone of 250 reviews, has sent me a message (in the field entitled "Achievements", being one of three fields that are there on the left side of the black band appearing at the top of this page). The message reads:

You've earned the "Reviewer" badge (Complete at least 250 review tasks. This badge is awarded once per review type) for reviewing "First Post".

I find the sentence, which the message is couched in, quite weird for the sentence has two separate sentences – "Complete at least 250 review tasks" and "This badge is awarded once per review type" – in its womb. How can a sentence have two separate sentences appearing in succession in it?

Supposing (but not agreeing) that there can be two separate sentences in succession in a sentence, should each of those sentences take a capital letter at the beginning and a full stop at the end? If yes, why is the full stop at the end of the second such separate sentence missing (despite the second such separate sentence taking a capital letter at the beginning)?

Secondly, if there could be two separate sentences in a sentence, then there could be even three, four, five and so on. What is the limit? How many separate sentences could be there in a sentence?

Finally, is the placement of the separate sentences in the sentence correct? Can a separate sentence be placed anywhere in the sentence? Or, should such placement meet some rule or logic?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – tchrist Sep 11 '16 at 17:51
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This is an interesting question about style.

According to Strunk and White, the final full stop should be omitted unless the sentence is "wholly detached", which I take to mean that the sentence does not occur within another.

Parentheses. A sentence containing an expression in parenthesis is punctuated, outside of the marks of parenthesis, exactly as if the expression in parenthesis were absent. The expression within is punctuated as if it stood by itself, except that the final stop is omitted unless it is a question mark or an exclamation point.

  • I went to his house yesterday (my third attempt to see him), but he had left town.

He declares (and why should we doubt his good faith?) that he is now certain of success.

(When a wholly detached expression or sentence is parenthesized, the final stop comes before the last mark of parenthesis.)

- page 18, Strunk and White, The Elements of Style

However, those examples are not complete sentences, except for the last, where the sentence inside begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop.

Grammar Girl, a contemporary authority on such matters, states this more explicitly.

For the most part, these two rules seem fairly easy to understand—complete sentence: terminal punctuation inside; partial sentence: terminal punctuation outside. However, when you have a sentence that contains another complete sentence within parentheses, the punctuation could become confusing. Let’s say you want to add the complete sentence “I can’t believe it!” inside parentheses within another complete sentence. In this case, the exclamation point would go inside the closing parenthesis and then a period would go outside: “I ate the whole box of donuts (I can’t believe it!).” - Bonnie Mills, read by Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl, "Parentheses, Brackets, and Braces", QuickAndDirtyTips.com

This gets us a single sentence. The Punctuation Guide extends this explicitly to multiple sentences, though no full example is given.

Parentheses (always used in pairs) allow a writer to provide additional information. The parenthetical material might be a single word, a fragment, or multiple complete sentences.

...

When a parenthetical sentence stands on its own, the closing punctuation mark for the sentence is placed inside the closing parenthesis.

  • The idea that theoretical physics can be taught without reference to complex mathematics is patently absurd. (But don’t tell that to the publishers of such mathematics-free books—or the people who buy them.)

- Parentheses - The Punctuation Guide

You ask:

Supposing (but not agreeing) that there can be two separate sentences in succession in a sentence, should each of those sentences take a capital letter at the beginning and a full stop at the end? If yes, why is the full stop at the end of the second such separate sentence missing (despite the second such separate sentence taking a capital letter at the beginning)?

Secondly, if there could be two separate sentences in a sentence, then there could be even three, four, five and so on. What is the limit? How many separate sentences could be there in a sentence?

Finally, is the placement of the separate sentences in the sentence correct? Can a separate sentence be placed anywhere in the sentence? Or, should such placement meet some rule or logic?

To your first question, the quotes above suggest that there is some flexibility regarding the terminating full stop. Given the specifics, I would lean towards including rather than excluding it.

To your second question, you may have as many sentences within a set of parenthesis as you wish.

To your final question, there is no restriction about where your parentheses should be located within the enclosing sentence. Naturally, the parenthetical portion should go within the parentheses.

Nevertheless, as we are discussing matters of style, one should strive for clarity. Parenthetical statements are intended to add information, but only as an aside. The main sentence should still be primary. The womb, as you delightfully term it, becomes distended if the parenthetical statements dominate the parent sentence. One should then consider whether its contents should be allowed independent existence, as it were.

In the case of your sample sentence, the main sentence is still primary. However, if you wished to reword it to avoid multiple sentences in a single set of parentheses, you can consider the following:

  • You've earned the "Reviewer" badge (complete at least 250 review tasks) for reviewing "First Post". This badge is awarded once per review type.
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It is certainly possible to contain multiple complete sentences in a parenthetical aside within a sentence. Whether you should and exactly how to punctuate such a creature are stylistic questions, with multiple possible answers.

  1. The accepted answer to a similar question over at Writers SE suggests that the entire aside should be capitalized and punctuated as if it were standing alone, so it would read:

    You've earned the "Reviewer" badge (Complete at least 250 review tasks. This badge is awarded once per review type.) for reviewing "First Post".

  2. On the other hand, in his 1991 Handbook of Good English, John Edwards suggests that the leading capitalization and closing period/full-stop should be omitted—though the internal capitalization and punctuation remain, as could a closing question mark or exclamation point—which would yield:

    You've earned the "Reviewer" badge (complete at least 250 review tasks. This badge is awarded once per review type) for reviewing "First Post".

Neither of these sources cites any further authority. Possibly the two approaches correspond to the UK vs US style of internal punctuation. Each seems more internally consistent to me than the approach in the original sentence, for what it's worth. There may be additional "recommended" ways to punctuate this, as well.*

Both sources, however, agree that this kind of construction is infelicitous. @LaurenIpsum says it "looks awful", while Johnson calls it "inevitably somewhat clumsy".

While there's no one "right" way to do it, for minimal alteration of this particular example I would prefer something like

You've earned the "Reviewer" badge (complete at least 250 review tasks) for reviewing "First Post" (this badge is awarded once per review type).

or

You've earned the "Reviewer" badge for reviewing "First Post". (Complete at least 250 review tasks. This badge is awarded once per review type.)

or possibly

You've earned the "Reviewer" badge (complete at least 250 review tasks; awarded once per review type) for reviewing "First Post".


*Possibilities multiply if we consider other methods than brackets to set off the parenthetical. If this particular parenthetical is actually meant to be a direct quote, I would be especially in favor of using a method that more directly indicates that fact in one way or another.

  • Your second preference with minimal alteration reading "You've earned ... (Complete at least 250 review tasks. This badge is awarded once per review type.)" is OK. There are three independant sentences − none interjected in the other. Moot question is: can a complete sentence be interjected in the middle of other sentence? Suppossing the answer is yes, can such interjection be anywhere in the sentence? Or, has such interjection to be at some specific place in the sentence? – Dinesh Kumar Garg Aug 19 '16 at 8:23
  • Actually, the linked question on Writers SE first advises "You've earned the "Reviewer" badge for reviewing 'First Post' (Complete at least 250 review tasks. This badge is awarded once per review type)." and then it recommends "You've earned the "Reviewer" badge for reviewing 'First Post'. (Complete at least 250 review tasks. This badge is awarded once per review type.)" It doesn't seem to recommend retaining a full stop before the end parenthesis in a sentence-internal parenthetical statement. – sumelic Aug 21 '16 at 18:47
  • @sumelic I wasn't sure exactly how to characterize the advice there, since the particular example under discussion already had the parenthetical at the end of the containing sentence. The initial advice was to "indicate where each complete sentence stops and starts" but for the specific example to drop the interior . in order "[t]o avoid the weird .). construction". This suggests (I thought) that where further words follow the parenthetical, the advice would be to include the full stop. I'll have to think about how to edit the answer to be clearer. – 1006a Aug 22 '16 at 1:48
  • Not backed up enough to be an answer, but my 2 cents in support of this: Well, it's mildly infelicitous, but it's within the normal stylistic bounds of its discourse community (international internet discussion sites, particularly those with a slant toward computing topics). Personally, I'd have re-written it: By reviewing "First Post," you've earned the "Reviewer" badge for completing at least 250 review tasks. This badge is awarded once per review type. But it ain't my site, you know? – outis nihil Aug 22 '16 at 18:47
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http://www.thepunctuationguide.com/parentheses.html

Discussion with illustrations in the link referred above is exhaustive and lucid. The parentheticals can occur anywhere in a sentence and they can be a word (s) / phrase (s) / sentence (s) marked by first bracket (), comas ",...," or dashes —...— and can be of any length if it doesn't flout your patience or too adventurous to a point of no return.Stylistic guides are not unanimous as to the right use of punctuation marks. Be it as it may, since these interpolation are introduced mostly by (), parentheses, and as we acknowledge them as punctuation marks, we would not use any other punctuation mark even when the parenthetical sentence ends. If the interjected one is a question / exclamation, of course, the respective marks are a sin qua non.

I think the Site has used punctuation marks judiciously : first one is an adjunct followed by a complete sentence. The style guides remind me 19th. Century poem by John Godfrey Saxe, " The Blind Men and the Elephant".

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