Parenthetical Expressions

Learning Objective:

  • Use correct punctuation of parenthetical expressions in sentences.

LESSON
Parenthetical expressionsWords, phrases, or clauses that add information that is not needed to provide the basic meaning of a sentence. Think of them as interrupters, asides, and add-ons to a sentence. Parenthetical expressions fall into four major categories: direct address, conjunctive adverbs, contrasting expressions, and common expressions. are words, phrasesA set of words that express an idea. A phrase may or may not form a complete sentence., or clausesA group of words in a sentence that contains a subject and a predicate. that writers use to add extra information to a sentenceA group of words, phrases, or clauses that expresses a complete thought. A complete sentence has these characteristics: a capitalized first word, a subject and a predicate, and end punctuation, such as a period (.), question mark (?), or exclamation mark (!).. Parenthetical expressions are also referred to as nonessentialExtra information in a sentence that is not needed to express its basic meaning. since they are not needed to understand the basic meaning of a sentence. Think of them as interrupters, asides, and add-ons to a sentence. This lesson will introduce you to the major types of parenthetical expressions and how to punctuate them correctly.

Major Types of Parenthetical Expressions

Parenthetical expressions fall into four major categories: direct address, conjunctive adverbs, contrasting expressions, and common expressions.

1. Direct address

The first type of parenthetical expression is direct addressA parenthetical expression that occurs when a person is addressed by name in a sentence, because proper names are always set apart by commas. Examples: Brad, please answer the phone. Excuse me, Mr. Morales, can I ask you a question? and includes the names of people being addressed.

Examples:

2. Conjunctive adverbs

The next type of parenthetical expression is made up of conjunctive adverbsA type of parenthetical expression; adverbs that join ideas together. Examples: also, first, however, next.. Conjunctive adverbs are words that are used to connect ideas. They include, but are not limited to, besides, consequently, finally, furthermore, however, in addition, in fact, instead, moreover, nevertheless, next, now, on the other hand,  still, and thus.

Examples:

3. Contrasting expressions

Contrasting expressionsContrasting expressions are parenthetical expressions that tell the reader that you are referring to one thing and not another. Example: Funnel cake, not cotton candy, is my favorite food at the fair. are parenthetical expressions that tell the reader that you are referring to one thing and not another.

Examples:

4. Common expressions

In addition to the three types of parenthetical expressions listed above, there are a number of common expressionsA common word or phrase that is set apart from the rest of a sentence by commas, parentheses, or dashes and that does not contain essential information. Like all parenthetical expressions, common expressions can be removed without changing the meaning of sentences. Yeah, I guess, I think, you know, and of course are all examples of common expressions. Example: You know, I'd rather see a movie instead of going to the party. like I think and of course.

Examples:

Notice that you could remove the parenthetical expressions in the sentences above and the basic meanings would not change.

Punctuating Parenthetical Expressions

All parenthetical expressions need to be set off or encased by commas(,) A punctuation mark used to group and separate information in sentences.. The only difference is where the parenthetical expression is located in the sentence.

Beginning: If it is located at the beginning of the sentence, place a comma after the parenthetical.

Example:

Middle: If the parenthetical appears in the middle of the sentence, place a comma both before and after it.

Example:

End: When the parenthetical appears at the end of the sentence, place a comma before the parenthetical and the appropriate end punctuation after the expression.

Example:

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