Parentheses ( )
- Provide extra/nonessential information.
- Separate material (a word, phrase, or sentence) from the main part of the sentence.
- De-emphasize the importance of the material in the parentheses.
Example: Tragically, Clay Aiken (a talented singer) did not win American Idol.
- When parenthetic information is part of the main sentence, the sentence punctuation goes outside the parenthesis.Example: Many viewers complain about the excessive praise of a particular American Idol judge (Paula Abdul).
- When the punctuation belongs to the parenthetical information itself, the punctuation goes inside the parenthesis.Example: Singers are often criticized for being "pitchy." (A pitchy singer typically gives a poor vocal performance.)
- Similar to the function of parentheses, except dashes emphasize information.
- Join a phrase to the end of a sentence to add an example, illustration, or contradiction.Example: American Idol is hosted by the most humorous man on earth - Ryan Seacrest.
- Insert an idea into the middle of a sentence to add an example, illustration, or contradiction.
- The idea must be enclosed by dashes and could be lifted out of the sentence without affecting its overall sense.
Example: Channel 19 - considered by many as the home of trashy television - airs American Idol on Tuesday nights.