I have come across the format of where one single word rests inside parenthesis and is followed by a punctuation mark.

Some of how I have seen it used (The examples are written by me but I have included the same specific usage):

I have searched for that issue on the Internet, but all (most?) of the sites stated it in that particular way.

I suppose it is equivalent to: ... but all (maybe most but I'm not sure) of the sites...

Returning back to what they wrote, you will find that they overused it (twice!) as to prove a point.

I think it may be rewritten like: ... that they overused it as they wrote it twice to prove...

Obviously, both statements used that same construction but to deliver different points/messages.

The most obvious difference is that in the first example the word was preceded by another word of the same kind (i.e. the two words "all" and "most" are related) while in the second example, the word was written in that format to assure and/or support a present claim.

  • So, does that (I'm not even certain if "construction" is the right term to refer to it by) have a name?

  • Does it have particular rules? If not, then how to use it correctly?

1 Answer 1


Your understanding is correct.

I would view these little parentheses (round brackets) as like editorial comments. The author is acting as an editor and adding a correction or detail. Punctuation is not essential (always) and the author-as-editor might be adding single words or short comments (like I have). I don't think this use of parenthesis has a particular name.

An exclamation mark might be added to indicate surprise. Adding a question mark to a word indicates doubt. You see this with and without brackets. Sometimes the brackets enclose only the punctuation. Again the intent is editorial. The author is indicating that she has doubt or surprise or both at a particular point.

There were 100(?) runners at the race.

There were 100(!) runners at the race.

There were 100 (or more!?) runners at the race

  • Thank you so much! I came to the conclusion that the addition of space is essential when there's at least one word between the parentheses, but no space is added when it is only a punctuation mark. Actually, in the first example, the auther wrote it without a preceding space, but I fixed it as I thought (and still think) that it was an intentional mistake. Apr 13, 2019 at 8:49

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