Which of the following two sentences is correct:

Jon (and Michael) is smart.
Jon (and Michael) are smart.

This example is clearly contrived but my question is whether the sentence should be grammatically correct when you erase the text in parentheses (Jon is smart) or should it be grammatically correct when read with the text in parentheses (Jon and Michael are smart).

  • Parentheticals do not count. See also previous related posts. Good Luck.
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 8:16
  • 1
    I just wouldn't use parantheses in sentences like this!
    – Tim Foster
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 10:32
  • @TimFoster - Yeah, me either- Michael’s an idiot...
    – Jim
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 18:26
  • @Kris If you need to see how something happens to have been printed to get its grammar right, then you are doing it all wrong. Grammar is about the language itself, its syntax and its morphology, not about how someone or other set it out in writing or printing or Braille. Therefore if you cannot here it, it does not count.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 20:08
  • The proper answer is to rewrite any such sentence to avoid the issue.
    – TrevorD
    Commented Mar 13, 2019 at 0:19

2 Answers 2


Note the use of is in this sentence: My friend (and her brother) is coming today. The subject is My friend. Despite appearances, parentheses are never part of the subject.

According to https://data.grammarbook.com/blog/commas/all-about-parentheses/

  • 2
    If you downvote, I'd appreciate knowing the reason. That way, I can improve it.
    – DracoTomes
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 13:56
  • Grammar is a feature only of real language, which means that it is only about what can be spoken and heard, not about writing technology. Can you hear parentheses?
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 20:04
  • @DracoTomes Never mind the down votes.
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 8:10
  • The rather more prestigious CMOS concurs: 'A case such as this illustrates a broader category in which justice (and, therefore, injustice) no longer applies.' As does Garner (Garner’s Modern American Usage, third edition. Oxford University Press), a real grammar. But others have recommended that rephrasing is usually the best choice hereabouts, to silence all critics. Commented May 2, 2020 at 14:54

No, you should not.

A phrase or sentence inside the paranthases is used to add some detail to the running sentence to make it better for the reader to understand without breaking the flow of it.

Therefore, it is completely a new sentence and should not participate in the grammar of the existing one because that would break the flow, which is the last thing we want.

  • 1
    Grammar is spoken not written. And parentheses cannot be heard.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 20:01
  • 1
    @tchrist what do you mean? Can you please elaborate?
    – Infinity
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 20:17
  • 1
    Read it aloud to someone. Don't tell them anything about its typography. Ask them what sounds right.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 12, 2019 at 20:19
  • @Infinity Right. However, to qualify as an answer and not just a comment, it needs to be substantiated further. Read the FAQ. Good Luck.
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 8:10
  • @Kris Thank you Sir/Ma'am. I am new here, can you please reframe the answer in your own words to show me how a perfect answer should be, in case you have sufficient time. Thank you
    – Infinity
    Commented Mar 14, 2019 at 8:21

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