Tuesday’s Writing Tips: Parentheses

Tuesday’s Writing Tips 

The Elements of Style

It’s time for another writing tip from the book The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White.

I selected parantheses because I am reading Gone Girl, and there are lots of sentences and expressions in parentheses in this book. I wanted to make sure I knew the rules of punctuation. I thought this tidbit was useful.


A sentence containing an expression in parentheses is punctuated outside the last mark of parenthesis exactly as if the parenthetical expression were absent. The expression within the marks 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 her house yesterday (my third attempt to see her), but she 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.)

Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.”
~E. Joseph Cossman

obstacles haiku

Today’s Haiku

blockade lies ahead
but only for a moment—
eye on the prize


Are you plagued with obstacles?



8 thoughts on “Tuesday’s Writing Tips: Parentheses

  1. I forgot that about Gone Girl though it’s been a while since I read it. 🙂 I try to avoid parentheses if possible because I feel like they weaken sentences, but there are plenty of authors who use them well. I suppose that in lieu of parentheses, I overuse the dash, haha.

  2. This is a great tip (as I love to put words in parenthesis). I am quite confused on where to pace the periods, exclamation points, and question marks… Now I know the rule of grammar (I hope I did my first parenthesis correctly.)

    Did i do it right in my two parenthesized statements above? 🙂

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