Use parentheses to enclose interruptions that are awkward to work into a sentence's normal punctuation. Parentheses de-emphasize the words they enclose (in contrast with the dash, which emphasizes), and they allow you to make supplementary comments about your main ideas. As with the dash, use them sparingly. Too many parentheses or unusually long parenthetical statements distract readers by setting up a whispering undercurrent to your main line of thought.

Consider the following examples:

My Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was helicopter maintenance.

The huge bouquet of roses (imitation, no doubt) sat in a corner of the darkened room.

Volkswagen (the name means "people's car") once built a sales campaign around being ugly.

For many years the champ worked out at a gym run by the Police Athletic League (PAL).


4.27 Write five sentences that illustrate the use of parentheses. Make sure that at least one of your sentences contains a complete sentence in parentheses, one an abbreviation in parentheses, and one a parenthetical statement at the end. You may use the examples above as models for imitation. Then exchange and discuss them with a partner.