Possible Duplicate:
Where does the period go when using parentheses?

Consider the following example:

It is obvious that f(x) < x (Assuming x > 0).

Should I capitalize the first letter of "Assuming"?

  • 2
    I don't think so. It seems to be part of the same sentence as what comes before. – user16269 Sep 17 '12 at 23:23
  • Resurrecting FumbleFingers' comment that got autodeleted: "Possible duplicate of Where does the period go when using parentheses?. You can put a whole sentence in parentheses, in which case the first letter would be capitalised. But if it's not a sentence, you don't capitalise." – RegDwigнt Sep 18 '12 at 8:49

There is no grammar, spelling, or capitalization rule that applies here. It's strictly technical and subject to style-manual rules. Whatever your colleagues do is what you should do. If there is a style manual for this kind of writing, follow it. If there isn't, a good rule of thumb is not to capitalize unless it's necessary for clarity.

Clarity is a virtue when writing anything (unless you're a typical native speaker of English, in which case you'll probably tell yourself that everyone who reads what you write will understand it because as a native speaker of English you have a perfect command of the grammar of English, so everything you write is perfect and acceptable and understandable).

The tag here is incorrect. It's not a grammar question but a writing mechanics question.

I suggest that it is better to avoid saying things like "It is obvious that..." The obvious usually doesn't need to be stated, and if you have to tell people that it's obvious, either it isn't obvious or you're being snide and patronizing or otherwise denigrating. You can use a different word: "clear".

Euphemisms and tactful phrases don't really change the meaning of what you say, just the tone and register, which goes to prove that it isn't what you say as much as how you say it that matters. In other words, style is everything. "Mistah Kurtz—he dead." In this case, much better than "Mister Kurtz has {passed away / gone on to his heavenly reward / left us / bought the farm / kicked the bucket}" or some such euphemism.

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  • This answer seems wrong to me. The rule is simple - if you're starting a new sentence, you need a capital letter. No style-manual is going to override that rule. – user16269 Sep 18 '12 at 3:30
  • It depends on where you start the sentence. Some style manuals will tell you that it's not necessary to use a capital letter for a new sentence after a colon and other style manuals will insist on it. In any case, the OP's question did not involve the straw man "new sentence" that you created for this little disputation, did it? If you think that "(Assuming x > 0)", then you will have to tell us where you got your definition of a sentence. Oh, I know, there are linguists who will tell you that a one-word answer to a question is a sentence (e.g., "What color is it?" "Green." = two "sentences"). – user21497 Sep 18 '12 at 5:59
  • "If you think that '(Assuming x > 0)', then you will have to tell us where you got your definition of a sentence." should have been "If you think that '(Assuming x > 0)' is a new sentence, then you will have to tell us where you got your definition of a sentence." – user21497 Sep 18 '12 at 6:08
  • Oh, I see. You're claiming that you thought that I was saying something stupid like "Don't capitalize the first word of any sentence". Only someone intent on creating a straw man argument would make such an such a patently false assertion. All you have to do is read my answer and see that all my new sentences begin with a capital letter. It should be obvious (snide and snarky) to any intelligent reader that I was referring to "(assuming x > 0)" and similar parenthetical remarks, not "new sentences". – user21497 Sep 18 '12 at 6:23
  • The rule is simple, as David Wallace says. But how it applies here may not be. Is it a new sentence or not (I would say not, but there may be others who disagree). – Andrew Leach Sep 18 '12 at 6:27

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