Blog/Grammar tips
7 December 2023
2 min read

Period Before or After Parentheses? Your Guide to Correct Usage

When it comes to punctuation, even the smallest details like where to place a period in relation to parentheses can cause a bit of a head-scratch. It's a common grammatical conundrum: does the period go before or after parentheses? In this article, we'll clear up the confusion and provide you with straightforward guidelines to ensure your writing is grammatically on point.

Understanding the Basics of Period Placement

The placement of a period in relation to parentheses is not just a matter of stylistic choice; it's governed by specific rules. Knowing these rules can enhance the readability and precision of your writing.

When to Place the Period Inside Parentheses

  • Complete Sentence Inside Parentheses: If the text inside the parentheses is a complete sentence that stands alone, the period should be placed inside.
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In this case, the sentence within the parentheses is independent of the main sentence and thus gets its own period.

When to Place the Period Outside Parentheses

  • Incomplete Sentence or Phrase Inside Parentheses: When the information inside the parentheses is not a complete sentence and is part of the larger sentence, the period should be outside.
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Here, the parentheses are part of the larger sentence, so the period comes after.

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Practical Examples in Context

To further clarify, let's look at some examples:

  • Period Inside: "She had a great idea for her novel. (It came to her in a dream.)"
  • Period Outside: "I can't believe how much we managed to do in one day (and with such little sleep)."

Summary: Navigating Periods and Parentheses with Ease

Remember, the key to correct period placement with parentheses lies in determining whether the enclosed text is a complete sentence on its own or part of a larger sentence. Once you've got that figured out, you're all set!

Frequently Asked Questions

If the punctuation mark applies only to the text inside the parentheses, it should be placed inside. Otherwise, it belongs outside.

Can I start a sentence with parentheses?

While it's not common, you can start a sentence with parentheses. However, ensure that the overall sentence structure remains clear.

Is this rule the same for all types of brackets?

The rules for period placement with square brackets are generally the same as for parentheses.

How do I handle citations that fall at the end of a sentence?

For citations in parentheses at the end of a sentence, the period comes after the closing parenthesis.

Can there be multiple sentences within parentheses?

Yes, you can have more than one sentence inside parentheses. In this case, the period for these sentences would be placed inside the parentheses.

Conclusion

Understanding where to place a period in relation to parentheses is a small but significant aspect of writing. It's these little details that can polish your writing, making it not just grammatically correct but also more professional and easier to read.

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