1. Statement: (S)ome happenings in the wake of freedom left a large legacy of misunderstanding.

  2. Your employer(s) were not able to produce substantial documents to support your case. [background: two employer documents were required, a response from someone uses employer(s) - what is this kind of writing?

  • 6
    One situation similar to "employer(s)" would be "(s)he", where the "s" is optional depending on which pronoun is applicable (this is sometimes written "s/he"). Sep 12, 2018 at 13:31
  • By any chance, is the author of the statement German? Or from another country where there are no square brackets on most keyboards?
    – Davislor
    Sep 13, 2018 at 3:01
  • : ) actually I was reading a book from from an India author. I too felt that the square bracket was the most appropriate for this occasion. And thanks for the other example that too is helpful to understand.
    – ABCA
    Sep 13, 2018 at 3:42
  • I'm guessing this should be two different questions, especially considering the only question of this post is only in the title and concerns the first bullet only. Sep 13, 2018 at 9:26

3 Answers 3


These two cases are unrelated.

As @RuchirShah correctly observes, the (s) at the end of employer(s) is number-agnostic: you might have one employer or several.

However, the parenthesised (S) at the start of (S)ome has nothing to do with plural or singular. It means the author has altered the quote, either changing capitalisation or inserting an s that was omitted either in the speech or its transcription. In either case, [square brackets] are usually preferred, and many style guides may not require you to indicate the former.

[Edited to clarify varying style practices]

  • 28
    If indicated at all, the former should preferably be indicated with [square brackets] as well. Using parentheses is just odd. Sep 12, 2018 at 14:36
  • 10
    This is probably the correct answer but I have never seen parentheses for the quote case, and I would consider it a mistake (if OP isn’t mistaken then it’s likely that whoever wrote it was, rather than making a conscious decision). Sep 12, 2018 at 15:09
  • 3
    US legal style (AKA Bluebook style) definitely does require brackets for changes in punctuation. In fact, this is the preferred way to indicate that the beginning of a sentence has been omitted, if you're starting your quote in the middle of a sentence. (If you leave out the middle of a sentence, or include a preceding sentence, there would also be ellipses of some sort and the change in capitalization might be optional, but legal style omits leading ellipses in favor of a bracketed capital letter.)
    – 1006a
    Sep 12, 2018 at 16:05
  • 1
    The quote case seems to have come from "India and Pakistan: Neighbours at Odds" By Avtar Bhasin. Is it possible parentheses are the preferred form of quote modification in India or Pakistan?
    – stannius
    Sep 12, 2018 at 23:01
  • 8
    @1006a Terminology note: Some varieties of English (e.g. UK English) call "(" and ")" brackets. In this situation, it's probably worth being clear regarding square brackets versus parenthesis (or round brackets) .
    – R.M.
    Sep 12, 2018 at 23:03

In case 2, “employer(s)” is an abbreviation for “employer or employers.” You will sometimes also see “employer/s,” or “(s)he.”

Case 1 is not standard written English. What probably happened is that the author is quoting from the middle of a sentence like, “I saw that some events in the wake of freedom ....” In the new context, “some” becomes the first word of a sentence, so it should be capitalized. This alters the original text, so it should be written, “[S]ome.” (Note that, in American English, changing the final punctuation as I just did is an exception to that rule, but British English would have required me to add the period outside the quotation marks.)

Your source seems to have substituted parentheses for brackets. The most likely reason is that they are using a keyboard with no square brackets, such as a German keyboard. (Especially since the style suggests an academic writing in English as a second language.) They might also have been using a content-management system where [S] is valid markup, such as BBcode.

  • 6
    I'm in the minority of AmE, probably due to my math/science background, but I follow the convention of putting the punctuation outside the quotation marks if it was not present in the original, with the sole exception of an ellipsis. Sep 12, 2018 at 19:11
  • @MontyHarder: I do the same! Not due to a math/science background, though. I think it's just my own stylistic preference, to preserve fidelity to the source.
    – V2Blast
    Sep 14, 2018 at 7:28

(s) is known as the plural in brackets. Use mostly in the case when the singular and the plural form can be used. employer(s) here stands for one or more (for singular and plural), so in both case, if it can be used.

  • 8
    This doesn't explain (S)ome.
    – Barmar
    Sep 12, 2018 at 15:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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