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What is the function of these brackets? Do they signify something or give details? Such as if I write:

The sustainer of the poor (people)…

Does the word ‘people’ refer back to the whole phrase “The sustainer of the poor”? Or does it refer back to the adjective ‘poor’? Can we write a word in brackets which refers back to the whole preceding phrase?

The bringer of the messages (postman)…

I think we can, since the word with article ‘the’ here is a noun i.e. messages. But, problem with above sentence is that the word ‘poor’ is an adjective thus it seems that it describes the word that comes later in the brackets, ‘people’. Here is another example:

The provider of functionality (server)…

This seems to be ok but if there is an adjective before the word in bracket then I think there should be either an article ‘the’ or the sign ‘i.e.’ before we write that word to which the whole phrase refers to. So I think we may write:

The sustainer of the poor (i.e. God)

But we cannot write:

The sustainer of the poor (God)

Is my position right?

3

Parenthesis are used to enclose information that either:

  1. clarifies a point made, or
  2. is an aside from the main point and subject.

In your example...

The sustainer of the poor (people).

... the parenthesis contains a clarification. Somebody or something sustains the poor, which most people would understand alone to mean "poor people", but I suppose if the writer thought that there might be any doubt that it could include poor animals, they might add this clarification in parenthesis.

Context, as always, is key. In your other example...

The sustainer of the poor (God)

... the structure of the sentence is identical to the first, and the parenthesis hold a clarification in both examples; but whereas in the first you are clarifying only what you mean by "the poor" with the addition of an optional word "people", in this second example you are clarifying the entire statement by telling the reader that "the sustainer of the poor" refers to God.

If you felt the information in your parenthesis was ambiguous in some way then you could clarify it as in your final example where you say:

The sustainer of the poor (i.e. God)

However, I feel that context is normally sufficient. For example:

God (Morgan Freeman) moves in mysterious ways.

If you saw this in the context of a movie review, you should instinctively know that the supplemental information in parenthesis is the name of the actor portraying God and not actually implying that Morgan Freeman is God. Even out of context many people would guess the kind of context it had been lifted from.

1

TLDR: It means "poor people".

This question needs additional context, but it sounds like you are trying to understand a specific quotation.

Parentheses can have several functions in written material and especially when one writer is quoting another.


Parentheses can show a clarifying word that is optional in the sentence

In this sentence,

The sustainer of the poor (people)...

the parentheses are helping clarify the meaning of the word "poor", to help the reader tell the difference between the following possible meanings.

(Let's rephrase the sentence, slightly, with a subject and verb, to make the following examples read more clearly.)

  1. This society is the sustainer of the poor people (in this area).
    Versus
  2. These aid payments are the sustainer of the poor countries. Versus
  3. This hurricane is the sustainer of the poor weather.

The word "people" in parentheses is not really necessary because the phrase "the poor" is widely understood to be a noun, meaning "people with little money".

It can also be an adjective, such as in "poor countries" or "poor weather", but in most cases, "the poor" automatically means poor people.

When you use parentheses in this way, the parentheses are optional

Importantly, when you use parentheses in this way, the parentheses are optional. The following are considered to have the same meaning (either as a noun, or a noun-phrase).

The poor

The poor (people)

The poor people


Parentheses can have other functions

As you mention, a parenthetical phrase can serve as an explanation, with or without "i.e.,"

  1. He hoped to meet the winner of the election (Kennedy).

  2. He hoped to meet the winner of the election (i.e., Kennedy).

  3. She hoped to have time to do one of her favorite activities (meeting new people and exploring local cuisine).

She hoped to have time to do one of her favorite activities (i.e., meeting new people and exploring local cuisine).

Without "i.e.," you can drop the parentheses and use a different separator, but some kind of separation is required:

  • Yes: He hoped to meet the winner of the election (Kennedy).
  • Yes: He hoped to meet the winner of the election, Alice Kennedy.
  • Yes (but awkward): He hoped to meet the winner of the election, i.e., Alice Kennedy.
  • No: He hoped to meet the winner of the election Kennedy.
  • No: He hoped to meet the winner of the election Alice Kennedy.

When you use parentheses this way, they [or a different separator] are NOT optional

This example answers the second part of your question -- is it okay to write this:

The sustainer of the poor (God)

Yes, this is okay, but you must leave the parentheses in, or use another separator like

  • The sustainer of the poor, God.
  • He prayed to the sustainer of the poor, God.

Unless you want to mean:

  • The sustainer of the poor God

which is probably not what you mean (this sentence construction reads like blasphemy to some people).

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