Semantic classification of Parenthesis

Parenthesis is used to enclose loosely related comment or explanation within the sentence, to enclose figures numbering items in a series, and to enclose figures spelled out to avoid misreading [23, 126].

In any language the goal is to convey information clearly and concisely. To achieve these goals it is important to remember to connect the ideas so that the audience can easily follow them. In other words it is necessary to use parentheses [47].

There are two extracts below.

There are many causes of air pollution. There is the use of private cars. This can cause many breathing problems because of fumes. Other forms of transport cause air pollution; these are buses, boats and motorcycles. Factories produce gasses that go into the air causing pollution. These things make people’s health suffer.

To begin with, there are many causes of air pollution. Firstly, there is the use of private cars. This can cause many breathing problems because of fumes. Furthermore, other forms of transport cause air pollution, for example, buses, boats and motorcycles. In addition, factories produce gasses that go into the air causing pollution. All in all, these things make people’s health suffer.

This is an example of how the use of parentheses can improve the quality of the speech, how the ideas flow more smoothly, and the logical relationships between the ideas are expressed clearer in the second paragraph. Most pieces of formal writing and presentations are organized in a similar way: introduction, development of main ideas or arguments, and conclusion. The parentheses like bridges between parts of writing. They join each part together as well as sentences and paragraphs within each part or even two ideas within one sentence. Transitions are not just verbal techniques that decorate the paper or speech by making them sound or read better. They are words with particular meanings that tell the reader (listener) to think and react in a particular way to someone’s ideas.

Parentheses are usually used to [53]:

  1. a) Enclose words not directly relevant to the main topic of the sentence but

too important to omit:

Optimistic thinking people (and I count myself among them) always seem to produce positive results in any situation [53].

Enclose figures or letters marking the division of a subject:

Murrow urged that public diplomacy officials be included when and as foreign policies are made, for several reasons: (1) to ensure that policymakers are aware of the likely reaction of foreign publics to a forthcoming policy; (2) to advise how best to convincingly communicate policies to foreign audiences; and (3) to ensure that U.S. diplomats are prepared to articulate policies before they are announced [COCA, ACAD, 2002].

  1. c) Add examples:

The new photo copier has many features (including scanning options and faxing capabilities) that will be most beneficial to us in this office [53].

  1. d) Indicate an equivalent entity with parenthetical punctuation:

As of this writing Endothil-CR has not been banned by any amateur or professional organized sporting body including the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) or the International Olympic Committee (IOC) [COCA, MAG, 2005].

The parentheses can also be used to link the parts of the presentation/essay together. They act as a signal to the audience/readers, telling them what they will hear/read next. Semantically parentheses are divided in the following groups [47; 41; 31; 32; 33; 52; 53; 59; 60]:

  1. Sequence

There are natural sequences, like infancy followed by childhood, adolescence, maturity and old age. In language the sequences can be expressed both by the choice of tenses, and by the choice of sequence words and phrases. There are a very large number of expressions which can be used to show the sequence of what we are saying. Here are some of them, divided into 3 groups, depending on their place in the text [47]:

READ:  Parenthetical Clauses


Firstly, First of all, For a short, In the first place, Initially, To begin/start with, Let us begin/start by, First and foremost, First and most importantly

Going further:

Second(ly)/third(ly), In the second place, Subsequently, Simultaneously, And then, Next, Formerly/previously, Furthermore, Moreover


Summing up/to sum up, To conclude, In summary, Finally, In short/in brief, In a nutshell, On the whole, Ultimately, Last/lastly, Last of all, Last but not the least

Such words as after, afterwards, before, currently, meanwhile, in the meantime, until , till, when, as soon as, soon after, etc. serve the same purpose when time sequence is indicated [47].

Here is an example of a specific sequence:

First, / To start with, / To begin with, / First of all… wash the wound with cold water. Secondly, / After that, / Afterwards, / Then, / Next,… wrap a bandage around the cut. Finally, / Lastly, / Last but not least, … place the patient in a comfortable position [47].

  1. Addition to what has been previously indicated

When stating the main points the additional ideas may be needed to introduce. Then the following phrases can be used:

Above all, Along with, Additionally, As well as, Besides, Equally important, Furthermore, Further, In addition, Moreover, Not only …, But also …, Not to mention, One could also say, What is more…


Never go fishing, swimming, eating, or bathing alone because you do not know who or what they are talking about back at camp! What is more, some of the most valuable information and alliances are built on shared experiences [COCA, ACAD, 2010].

Judge Wood’s defenders say that she has a lengthier record on social issues than other potential nominees only because more such cases came before her court. Moreover, they say, in many of those cases, including several involving abortion, Republican appointees – often including the renowned conservative Judge Richard Posner – voted the same way she did [COCA, NEWS, 2010].

  1. Personal or other people’s opinion

To express personal or somebody else’s point of view or to quote the authorities, the following phrases can be used:

Personal opinion

In my opinion/in my view, To my mind, To my way of thinking, Personally I believe that/ I think that…, It strikes me that, I feel very strongly that, It seems to me that, As far as I am concerned

Another source

It’s popularly believed that, People often claim that, It is often alleged that, Some people argue that, A lot of people think/believe that, It’s widely recognized, It’s maintained

For example:

To my way of thinking, their breakup was the best thing that ever happened to him [COCA, FIC, 2010].

  1. Comparison/Contrast

Sometimes it may be compared what have already been stated with what are going to be said next. The ideas may seem similar or contrast with one another.

Look at these sentences:

  1. Alcohol reduces our ability to concentrate on our work. Similarly/ likewise/ in the same way, it reduces our ability to concentrate while driving.
  2. 2. It is a known fact that smoking causes cancer, yet, / however, / nevertheless, / but, / at the same time, / still, / nonetheless millions of people around the world continue to smoke [47].

In the first sentence all the underlined phrases express the similarity of two ideas: alcohol badly affects our 1) work; 2) driving. In the second example the highlighted phrases help us make contrasting points: smoking is bad, but a lot of people don’t care.

Here are more of these phrases:

READ:  Participial clauses


Also, Alternatively, Analogously, Both… and…, By the same token, Correspondingly, Equally, Just like, In comparison, In the same manner, In the same way, Likewise, Similarly, Too


But by the same token, she also testified that she was confused about what was in reality and what was in her imagination [COCA, SPOK, 2009].

Likewise, they have developed patterns of value and behavior that reflect the multiple cultural influences they have encountered [COCA, ACAD, 2001].


But/However, Conversely/On the contrary, Even though/Although, In spite of / despite, Differing from/In contrast/Instead, In reality, One the one hand / on the other hand, Notwithstanding, Nonetheless/Nevertheless, Still/Yet, Unlike, Whereas/While

For example:

Notwithstanding my previous critique, The Promised Land contains just an abbreviated discussion of a link between the sharecroppers of yesteryear and the ghetto residents of today [COCA, ACAD, 1991].

Unlike my mother, he wasn’t much of a talker, but this one time when he was drunk – more often than not, he was drunk – he told a very strange story [COCA, FIC, 2009].

  1. Reinforcement

The Parentheses of reinforcement indicate the additional point in an argument, but with a slightly different meaning. They are used to reinforce an argument in a situation where a preceding argument might not seem sufficient. To stress a point, to emphasize what is said, the following phrases can be used:

Above all, Actually, Additionally, Admittedly, Again, Also, As a matter of fact, As well (as), Besides, Certainly, Especially, Further, Furthermore, Of course, Indeed/truly, In fact/actually, In addition, Mainly, More over, Needless to say, No doubt, Not only… but also, Notably, Obviously, Particularly, Specifically, Surely

Let’s see which effect they produce:

Actually, the difficulty isn’t with the iPad, but rather with the USB port: It’s not supplying enough juice [COCA, MAG, 2011].

 Needless to say, I felt such a relief that all are safe and sound [COCA, SPOK, 2011].

Notably, when pronouns – but not proper names – were read, there was activity in areas of the brain associated with spatial processing [COCA, ACAD, 2010].

  1. Explanation

A point already made can be explained in three ways [5, 140]:

  1. a) by expanding and clarifying its meaning: that is, that is to say, ie;
  2. b) by giving a more precise description: namely, mainly, particularly, viz;
  3. c) by giving illustration: for example, for instance, such as, to illustrate, as an illustration, to demonstrate, e.g.

For instance:

At least one person, namely the President himself, supports the proposal for disarmament.

It is important that young children should see things, and not merely read about them. For example, it is valuable experience to take them on a trip to a farm.

  1. Classification

In order to help the audience perceive the information better, especially when it is quite sophisticated the ideas may be needed to clarify, to make them easier for understanding or give some examples. For this the following parentheses are used:

In other words, That is…, Namely, That is to say, To put in another way, One example of this is, For example/for instance, Such as, Frequently, As an illustration, To demonstrate, To illustrate

For example:

That, he told his audience, is a statistically impossible lack of diversity. In other words, it’s the product of institutional ideological bias [COCA, ACAD, 2010].

And I think he has made the determination that, you know, he is going to sacrifice any sort of real life in the cause of Wikileaks. That is to say, this is a guy who lives his whole life with a boarding pass in his hand and a knapsack over his back, and that’s about it in terms of what his life is [COCA, SPOK, 2010].

  1. Alternative ideas

The parentheses present a new way of solving the problem, help to transfer from one idea to another, equally important in the situation [47].

READ:  Positional characteristics of Parenthesis

The next phrases can be used in this case:

Besides, However, Nevertheless, Nonetheless, Only, But, Still, Yet, In any case, All the same, At the same time

There are some examples of using them:

All the same, Dion says she came here in the first place because she wanted to put down roots, back when her son Rene-Charles–known as “R.C.” and now 10–was an infant [COCA, MAG, 2011].

In any case, since childhood the novels to which I’ve returned most gladly are those that ask to detain us for weeks, even months – the novels of Lady Murasaki, Samuel Richardson, Stendhal, Dickens, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Proust, and Thomas Mann [COCA, FIC, 2011].


  1. Expressing cause / reason

The parentheses expressing cause and reason help to motivate ideas, acts, situations that already have happened or could have happened. Usually the reason or the cause is presented in the previous sentence. There are some parentheses below:

Because of, As, Since, This is why, Due to, Owing to, For this reason

For instance:

The study of rock art would seem an unlikely candidate for settling this question — it is usually nearly impossible to date. For this reason – and because rock art is often subject to whimsical interpretations – some archaeologists aren’t particularly keen on it [COCA, ACAD, 2011].

  1. Result

These phrases show the consequence or the result of what has been said in the previous sentence or sentences. They help to express relationships of cause and effect. To express these relationships one of the three following ways can be chosen [47]:


Among the conjuncts because, as, since, and so can be marked out. Because, as, and since introduce a cause; so introduces an effect. These are used to join two complete sentences (or independent clauses) together:

I stayed at home because it was raining.

Since it was raining, I stayed at home.

It was raining, so I stayed at home.

  1. b) Transitions

Among the transitions the most often used are therefore, consequently, and as a result. All of these introduce an effect.

It was raining; therefore, I stayed at home.

It was raining. Consequently, I stayed at home.

Other transitions are:

Accordingly, As a consequence, For this/that reason, Hence, In brief, In conclusion, In other words, In short, In the nutshell, In that case, On account of this, Overall, Therefore, Then, Thus

c) Prepositions

Among the prepositions are due to and because of. Both of these introduce a cause in the form of a noun phrase:

In a retrial in 2003 the suspects were again acquitted again due to lack of physical evidence [COCA, NEWS, 2011].

Because of lack of physical evidence, in a retrial in 2003 the suspects were again acquitted again.

 Thus, the effective usage of parentheses can help connect the ideas logically. Using them fluently and confidently helps to come across as a skilled speaker [46].

  1. Summing up / concluding

The conclusion of what has been said before, summarizing the most important and brilliant ideas can be presented by the following parenthesis:

All in all, Overall, Generally, In conclusion, On the whole, In the main, To sum up, Accordingly, Consequently, Finally, Hence, So, Therefore, Thus, As a result, In brief, In short, In summary, On the whole, To conclude

For instance:

All in all, he had the face of some fairy-tale prince come to life. Some gallant knight on a quest [COCA, FIC, 2000].

In conclusion, my father is driving me down to Chicago so I can see a very anticipated “Hurt Locker” [COCA, NEWS, 2010].