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Parentheses set off extra information (such as a writer's remarks, an interruption, or a reference) from the rest of a sentence. Learn how to use them in this video!



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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hey grammarians, hey Paige. - [Voiceover] Hi David. - [Voiceover] So today, we're gonna talk about parentheses. So, before we get into what parentheses do, I would like to talk very briefly about the word origin of parentheses or parenthesis, - [Voiceover] Okay. because it comes from Greek, so para means besides, and thesis means placing, right? So it's placed beside, approximately, and how we use parentheses is we kinda put 'em to the side for little, what are called asides in writing, little interruptions. So let's lay out the functions of parentheses. And I should say, the singular form of parentheses is parenthesis. That's just one of these. Two of 'em is parentheses, like so. So Paige, what is a parenthesis, and what does it do? - [Voiceover] So a parenthesis is a piece of punctuation that has kind of a lot of different functions. It can indicate remarks by the writer of a text. - [Voiceover] Okay. - [Voiceover] Or specify a definition or a reference. It can also show interruptions by an audience, but overall, the parenthesis separates a piece of technically unnecessary information, or what we called an aside, from the rest of the sentence. - [Voiceover] So it separates inessential information. - [Voiceover] Right, you can take out what's in the parentheses, and the sentence will still make sense. - [Voiceover] All right, so let's take these one at a time. So here we've got something like, the cookie, which was still warm, was delicious. Now we could, conceivably, take that out of the sentence, right? 'Cause the sentence is basically, the cookie was delicious. But if we wanted to add an additional remark by a writer, which is whoever ate the cookie, namely me, we would put in this parenthetical remark. - [Voiceover] Right, it's some extra information. - [Voiceover] And when I say parenthetical, I'm talking about this little aside here. That's what I mean by a parenthetical. So this is what's called a parenthetical aside. So the second way in which you use parentheses is to specify a definition or reference. So let's say I wanted to quote Paige's as yet unwritten autobiography. - [Voiceover] Okay. - [Voiceover] So, what I'm doing here is I'm using this parenthetical aside to cite where in her book she said, "Oh no, a tiger!" So let's say this is, what I'm doing here, this sentence is like an excerpt from some essay that I'm writing about Paige's life and times, which I've italicized here because it is a book. - [Voiceover] Right. - [Voiceover] So what I'm doin' here is I have the quote, and then, in order to say where that reference comes from, I give the author's last name, the name of the book, and then p. 38, and all of that is inside parentheses, like so. That's the second use of the parenthesis. So let's say you're taking down a transcript of a speech. You're typing up someone's speech, and they start coughing, and it interrupts the way they're giving a speech. Let's say I was trying to render the sentence, "Furthermore, (coughs) I must firmly state that." - [Voiceover] Right, so you can include the coughing in the sentence - [Voiceover] Right. when you're writing it down or transcribing it. Like, if we think this is important enough to note, we can just sort of say, voop, voop, yup, coughing happened here. - [Voiceover] I see. So those are the uses of the parenthesis. You can indicate remarks by the writer, as in our first example, or specify a definition or a reference, which we did here with the reference to my book, or you can show an interruption in speech. That's it! - [Voiceover] Sweet! So what happened with that tiger? - [Voiceover] That's a long story. - [Voiceover] All right, we'll talk about that later. You can learn anything. Dave out. - [Voiceover] Paige out.