In a sentence, when I want to talk about something that isn't really important I can use parenthesis "(...)" to express how insignificant this thing is.

For example:

Your sister is very beautiful (the one who is 19 years old).

What about double parentheses? When I want to express something insignificant into something insignificant.

I put your bag on the table (the round one (at the third floor)).

Even though it is very ugly, I was wondering whether it's orthographically correct and therefore can be used in some situations.

  • 1
    People who use nested parentheses tend to LISP. (No, I will not apologise for my tasteless pun)
    – Mutantoe
    Jun 6, 2015 at 21:20
  • I noticed that most people were writing "on the third floor" but not "at the third floor", was my sentence grammatically incorrect ? Jun 7, 2015 at 6:46

2 Answers 2


You could also use em-dashes to set off a parenthetic phrase:

Your sister —the one who is 19 years old— is very beautiful.

or to append an afterthought:

Your sister is very beautiful — the one who is 19 years old.

But avoid nested parentheticals.

Your example isn't really a nested parenthetic:

... the round one on the third floor.

In English we can "chain" prepositional phrases and modifying clauses:

.... the round one made of pine on the third floor up from the basement.


In general, it is better not to use double parentheses, as they can easily confuse readers, and are generally not considered grammatically correct.

So as a rule of thumb, unless you feel you have to use two parentheses, then it is best to just stick with one set, and add information to the one set of parantheses:

I put your bag on the table (the round one on the third floor).

But yes, different organisations and people have different standards about double parentheses, and if you needed to you could consider using them, however it is best to try and avoid them, as they can make a sentence considerably more difficult to read.

Another option would be to maybe use square brackets inside them, like:

I left your bag on the table (the round one [on the third floor])

Although I have hardly ever seen this, you technically could use it.

  • 1
    Would you really consider them (gramatically?) incorrect? I tend to use them quite often in comments, emails and similar semi-informal communication and never believed them to actually be incorrect, just a bit... complex. Jun 6, 2015 at 18:12
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    @djeikyb: I believe using brackets like this is the standard thing to do when you absolutely positively need to use double parenthesis (something one should generally avoid because it's very confusing [which is why you haven't seen them]). See this Grammar Girl column. Jun 6, 2015 at 19:19
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    As a note, the only place I have seen square parentheses being used was in mathematic formulas (which stopped making sense after I learned about integrals).
    – Linkyu
    Jun 6, 2015 at 23:06
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    @djeikyb My answer states that you should try to avoid them whenever possible, however I have seen double parentheses in various publications, so they are not completely alien to the language.
    – 13509
    Jun 7, 2015 at 9:32
  • 1
    @djeikyb: Here's another website endorsing brackets inside parentheses. Their style uses parentheses for citations, but citations inside parentheses get enclosed in brackets instead. (And this is a sensible reason for nested parentheses.) Jun 25, 2015 at 18:38

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