The expected number of Roma visits Americans made was highest, at 80 thousand, followed by about 50 thousand (Canadians) and 20 thousand (Mexicans).

Here I'm reporting the numbers of visits to Roma expected to be made by Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans. Am I using the parentheses correctly? If not, please recommend some ways to correct the sentence with minimum alteration to it.

P.S. I mostly wonder if I should add "by" before Canadians and Mexicans, but I might have made other mistakes without even noticing them.

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  • Simple, minimal change: remove the brackets. Alos "Roma" is Italian, the English word is Rome (unless you are talking about the football club)
    – James K
    Mar 30 at 6:23
  • In the chart I was given it is "Roma"; should I change it to Rome then?
    – Ken Adams
    Mar 30 at 8:43
  • 1
    Yes, I suppose you should probably follow the chart. The phrasing is odd "expected visits" sounds like something in the future, but you use a past tense. I suppose this might be some technical statistical use of "expected". But however you phrase your description, you probably don't want to use brackets.
    – James K
    Mar 30 at 12:01
  • 1
    I found it by google. Note the mis-spelling of "Madrid" This is not something created for the test by the people at Cambridge. It was, presumably created before 2018, so 2018 was in the future for the people making the chart. Now 2018 is in the past which makes the tense use harder "80 thousand Americans had been expected to visit Rome"
    – James K
    Apr 1 at 5:30
  • 1
    A technical difference, but one that, in my judgment, is not very important in this particular situation.
    – James K
    Apr 1 at 6:24

2 Answers 2


Remove the parentheses. There is nothing parenthetical about the place of origin. Just say, "... followed by 50 thousand Canadians and 20 thousand Mexicans".

You would only need parentheses if you were including some "side" information. Like "... followed by 50 thousand Canadians (most of them from Quebec) ..."

Here's a simple rule: Try removing everything inside the parentheses and see if the sentence still makes sense. If not, you generally should not include the parentheses. (There may be exceptions to this but I think it's a good general rule.)

By the way, ditto James K. If you're referring to the capital of Italy, then if you are writing in English you should use the English name, Rome, not the Italian name, Roma. If you're talking about some other place or thing called "Roma", ignore this comment. In general, you should only include a word that is not from the same language as the bulk of your text if there is no available word in that language, if you are talking about the word itself ("this is what the Greeks call ..."), or if you are quoting someone.

  • I think it would be different without the parentheses. 80 thousand was the number of visits made by Americans. One American might make several visits, therefore there might be fewer than 80 thousand Americans visiting Rome. But if I removed the parentheses, it would no longer be about the number of visits, but about the number of visitors.
    – Ken Adams
    Mar 30 at 8:50
  • I'd like to think that 50 thousand visits equals 50 thousand visitors. I mean it'd be better for me if the examiner didn't mind the difference I mentioned because I would have more room to paraphrase the sentence for my exam. I'm not sure if it's acceptable though.
    – Ken Adams
    Mar 30 at 8:54
  • 1
    @KenAdams With the parentheses, it is not at all clear that you mean visits rather than visitors. There is no convention in English that "20,000 Canadians" means 20,000 people from Canada but "20,000 (Canadians)" means 20,000 something else done by an unspecified number of Canadians. If you want to clarify this distinction, you have to use words, not just punctuation. You could, for example, say, "20,000 visits by Canadians". You can't just invent a new notation, not explain it, and expect readers to understand what you mean.
    – Jay
    Mar 30 at 16:43
  • Absolutely. This is correct. Numbers plus a nationality in an example like this would not use parentheses. And, of course, Rome because Roma are Roma gypsies or the Romani people.
    – Lambie
    Mar 31 at 14:33

In your example you could remove the parentheses:

The number of Roma visits Americans made was highest, at 80 thousand, followed by about 50 thousand Canadians and 20 thousand Mexicans.

or you could swap things around:

The number of Americans visiting Rome was highest (80,000), followed by Canadians (50,000) and Mexicans (20,000).

P.S. As others have remarked, expected...made doesn't work. "are expected to make" if it's a projected number.

  • And since we don't have the chart, I'm not worrying about the difference between visitors and visits -- just focusing on how parentheses are typically used in contexts like this one. The number usually goes inside them, not the category.
    – TimR
    Mar 31 at 11:41
  • P.S. Some style guides would have you spell out 80, 50, and 20 in the version not using parentheses, eighty thousand, fifty thousand, twenty thousand, rather than mix number and word.
    – TimR
    Mar 31 at 12:57
  • "...the number often goes inside them, not the category" => so I suppose the following version is correct: "The number of visits to Rome Americans were expected to make was highest, at eighty thousand, followed by Canadians (fifty thousand) and Mexicans (20 thousand)"?
    – Ken Adams
    Apr 1 at 1:39
  • Regarding the chart, I've just uploaded it for further discussion on the use of "expected" and whether visits and visitors are the same here or not.
    – Ken Adams
    Apr 1 at 1:41
  • 1
    Since the countries are the comparands, I would make the country the subject of the sentence: Americans were expected to make the most visits to Rome, at eighty thousand.
    – TimR
    Apr 1 at 11:49

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