Friday, March 19, 2021

SOL March 19: Punctuation Lesson

One of the editors I work with was having trouble with punctuation and parentheses (she’s new and young). I had fun coming up with this explanation.


            The rule is that if the complete sentence (quote or not) that's in parens is totally within another sentence, then the period goes outside the parens, but if the complete sentence (quote or not) is not within another sentence, then the period goes inside the parens. Take this example:


Her instructions for raising animals are brisk (“Try to remain businesslike—they are not your pets").


            The quote in parens belongs within the sentence because it's illustrating the point of the sentence, so the period belongs to the sentence as a whole, not to the quote in parens. (Parenthetically, if the sentence or quote functions like an aside, as this sentence is doing outside of the preceding sentence, the period goes inside the parens.)

            Further complicating matters, if the quote or sentence within parens is a question or exclamation, that punctuation would go inside the parens (like so! and is that clear?). And you see the period for the sentence as a whole still goes outside the parens. (Is this clear? And does it make some sort of sense?)


I’m participating in the 14th annual Slice of Life Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers. This is day 19 of the 31-day challenge.  It’s not too late to make space for daily writing in a community that is encouraging, enthusiastic, and eager to read what you have to slice about.  Join in!



  1. Yikes! is all I can say. Try explaining that to eighth graders!

    1. I think my editor also said, "Yikes!" But she is older than an eighth grader.