Parentheses are punctuation marks that serve two main purposes: to set aside material that is not necessary and to indicate that a word can be singular or plural.

Let’s take a look at the first use. In this sentence, it says: “Last week, a tornado came through our town (which is not common) destroying many homes.”

The next lesson: Hyphens

The following transcript is provided for your convenience.

Now, “which is not common“, which is in parentheses, is not necessary to the meaning of the sentence. In fact, we could just take this phrase right out, and it wouldn’t even change the meaning of the sentence.

Take a look at what I mean.

Last week, a tornado came through our town destroying many homes.”

Even when you take this phrase out, it doesn’t make any difference to the sentence. Parentheses just show that these words have additional information.

If you, as a writer, want to write something down, you want to add a little tidbit to what you’re saying to give the reader even more information. You could put the information in parentheses, but that lets the reader know tha information is not central to the message you’re trying to convey.

And, make sure that anytime words are put in parentheses, make sure that you can read that sentence without the words in the parentheses even there. Make sure that it still makes sense. So, always practice reading your sentence.

So, say I wrote this sentence, I would practice “Last week, a tornado came through our town“, skip what’s in the parenthesis and say, “destroying many homes“. That makes perfect sense, so I know that I’m good.

Another instance when you’ll use parentheses is if you’re doing some kind of more formal writing. So, say I wrote “Rep. Nancy Pelosi“, I would put in parentheses that she’s a democrat from California. That’s additional information. You don’t have to know that, but I wanted to add on that tidbit of information.

Now, the second main use for a parentheses is to indicate that a word can be singular or plural. The reader, in this case, does not know which applies more to the reader. The singular form of the word, or the plural form of the word?

So, take a look at this, and pretend that this is from a car wash. It’s a flyer that says “We will wash your car“, and then in parentheses, it has an “s” because the car wash doesn’t know whether you have one car, two cars, or even more. So, they put “s” in parentheses, and the reader then determines which applies more to them. The plural form, or the singular form?

So, remember that parentheses have two main functions. Know what those functions are, and remember that parentheses will always work in pairs. You wouldn’t just put one parenthesis right there and leave the other one out. You need two because they enclose information inside them.

The next lesson: Hyphens