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Hello all,

I have a question that is not addressed in any section that I've perused so far, here or elsewhere. I know that punctuation normally goes outside of the parentheses (like this). (However, if the entire sentence goes inside, then keep the punctuation inside as well.) The exception to this is when a question mark or an exclamation mark (dang it!) is necessary. My question comes from this last rule. What if that is the end of the sentence, as follows?

In the end, everyone felt better about each other (even if certain members wanted to kill certain others!)

Everything I've seen so far indicates that there should be an extra period outside of the closed parenthesis (since the exclamation mark pertains only to the parenthetical material), but I'm loathe to do it. Is there a rule about this? Please help!

Yours,
Mark
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Hi Guest,

Welcome to the forum. I encourage you to register, though it is not required.

In the end, everyone felt better about each other (even if certain members wanted to kill certain others!)


Yes, I tend to think that a period is required too. And I can see why you are loathe to do it.

If it were me, I'd simply rewrite your sentence.

In the end, everyone felt better about each other--even if certain members wanted to kill certain others!

Hope that help

MountainHiker
Thanks MountainHiker

I seem to be having some problems with logging in (clicking on the LOG IN button simply refreshes the screen), so I'll post as a Guest again.

Well, I'm glad I'm not the only one who just can't seem to be able to find any rules about this. The problem is, I have to use the parentheses because, in fact, I'm trying to demonstrate how punctuation within parentheses works! Isn't there some rule about never double-punctuating? That may be the only applicable rule here, but I can't seem to find anything about that either.

Yours,
Mark
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Can anyone else find any rules pertaining to this or know it first-hand? Any help would be much appreciated.

Yours,
Mark
In the end, everyone felt better about each other (even if certain members wanted to kill certain others!) .

You should never, ever, punctuate a sentence like that.

Furthermore, parentheses look ugly and slow down reading. Prefer the humble comma or rebuild the sentence.
Thanks for your comments, matthewg. I wonder, however, if you could actually point me to some rule or convention rather than simply telling me never, ever to do that. And, actually, I'm not quite sure what "that" is--is that a space then a period after the closing parenthesis? My original sentence had nothing after the closing parenthesis. And while I agree that sometimes parentheses slow down reading and should be used with discretion, perhaps this falls more under the category of "stylistic preference" than hard-and-fast rules.

Thanks for your input.

Yours,
Mark
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Hi Mark,

I think you worst fears are confirmed, at least by one person.
But if the parenthetical sentence ends with a question mark or exclamation point, put a period after the closing parenthesis (here's another example!).


Source: [url="http://garbl.home.comcast.net/stylemanual/p.htm "]Garbl's Writing Center: Style Manual: P[/url]

Hope this helps.

MountainHiker
Hi,

I've looked through three books, Cochrane's Between you and I, Bryson's Troublesome Words, and The Times Style Guide. None of them give any set rules, just stylistic preferences, but the general preference is to put the final punctuation mark inside the parentheses, and none outside.

The advice that Garbl offers is misdirected. First, he recommends that one should not captilise the initial letter of the parenthetical sentence, meaning that it is not an independent sentence. Then, he goes on to state, "But if the parenthetical sentence ends with a question mark or exclamation point, put a period after the closing parenthesis (here's another example!)." If "here's another example!" is not an independent sentence, then do not treat it as such: the exclamation mark is enough to signify the ending of the entire sentence by itself.
Hi Matthewg,

Actually, I agree with Garbl.

I think he is advocating not to capitalize the first letter for aesthetic reasons. If parenthetic sentences are capitalized, then the eye is confused when reading. Remember, people usually read at a fast pace (especially in today's business environment).

1) But if we were to suddently capitalize phrases or even sentences within parentheses, then the eye might stumble (Here's an example).

When you read the above sentence, you are not sure if the parenthetical thought is a continuous part of the prior sentence or if it is a start of a completely separate parenthetical thought. Did the prior sentence end?

I believe that the three books you reference are discussing when both the parenthetical thought and sentence both share a period, then just put the period outside. See number 1 above and 1b below.

1b) But if we were to suddently capitalize phrases or even sentences within parentheses, then the eye might stumble (here's an example).

In 1b, I changed the "H" to "h".

But if were to rewrite that same example with an exclamation point, then it changes.

1a) But if we were to suddently capitalize phrases or even sentences within parentheses, then the eye might stumble (here's an example!).

I am using the exclamation point for my strong emphasis. That's allowed. But I still haven't closed the punctuation to the main sentence. So I need to maintain the period after the last parenthesis. I can't move the exclamation mark to the outside because I don't want the whole sentence emphasized, just the parenthetical thought.

That's how I read Garbl's advice. Not that I am an authority, but I tend to agree with it.

Hope that helps.

MountainHiker
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