Comma Before Or After Parentheses? Explained For Beginners

Parentheses are an additional element you can put in a sentence to explain something. We also use commas for the same purpose in some cases. However, what happens when we use the two together? This article will look at commas before and after parentheses.

Should I Place A Comma Before Or After Parentheses?

You should place a comma after parentheses in most cases. This applies when the parentheses are part of the introductory remark or another parenthetical element. A comma can never come directly before parentheses, but it can be part of the content of the parentheses.

comma before or after parentheses

To help you understand a little more about what we mean, check out the following:

  • A warm welcome to all (especially the mothers), and now I ask that you turn your phones off and listen closely!
  • The middle-aged man, who was about fifty years old (and a few months), never liked to talk much to his family.

As you can see, we can place a comma directly after parentheses when we set up two different situations.

The first example shows how the parentheses are part of an introductory remark. If the parentheses come at the end of said remark, we can use a comma straight after to include the rest of the sentence before it’s completed.

The second example shows how we use a comma-separated parenthetical element in the middle of the sentence. This dependent clause gives more information, and the parentheses work by giving us more to think about.

In the second example, we still include a comma after the parentheses because it would have naturally ended the clause if the parentheses weren’t present.

To prove this, we can remove the parentheses altogether, and you’ll notice that the commas still fall in the same place:

  • A warm welcome to all, and now I ask that you turn your phones off and listen closely.
  • The middle-aged man, who was about fifty years old, never liked to talk much to his family.

If you can remove the parentheses and the comma still belongs, then it’s likely you need to include a comma directly after it.

When Should I Place A Comma After Parentheses?

So, let’s go over it in more detail. We’ve already explained all the basics of how commas work, and we’ve mentioned that it’s the only likely case to have commas after a parenthesis. Now let’s dive into some details.

You should place a comma after a parenthesis when used as additional information pieces within an introductory remark or secondary parenthesis. If the comma would belong in the sentence without the parentheses, we need to include it after.

There are no situations where this is grammatically correct before parentheses. For example:

  • Correct: Hello and welcome (to most of you at least), and I thank you for being here today.
  • Incorrect: The warmest of welcomes (although you don’t deserve it,) and I appreciate you all coming.

As you can see, the comma inside the parentheses is marked “incorrect.” It’s not right to use this in any case, so you should avoid it.

Examples Of How To Use A Comma After Parentheses

To help you understand more about the comma rules, check out the following examples:

  1. You should know that I do not care (though I have pretended to in the past), and you should find someone else to help you.
  2. The man, who wanted nothing to do with him (even though he was his own child), decided it was best for him to leave.
  3. Welcome (to all who are listening), and let me tell you all about the amazing prizes that will await you when you involve yourself in this party!
  4. The mystery of the broken vase, which has plagued the family for many years (five to be exact), has finally been solved.
  5. The people of the Congo, who needed a lot of help (which we dutifully provided), have finally found a way to pay us back!
  6. You cannot keep going on that way (as much as you’d like to), and I think it’s time that you put the idea to bed and move on!
  7. The castle, once ruled by King Arthur (though no one is certain if that’s true), now stands derelict atop the tallest peak.

We can place commas after parentheses whenever we include them as part of a secondary parenthetical element. They are used to provide further information to the reader that otherwise might have been missed.

As always, the parentheses can be removed, and the sentence will make sense. They do not include necessary information; they only include extra things that might be helpful.

Is It Ever Correct To Place A Comma Before Parentheses?

There are plenty of cases where commas follow parentheses. However, there are no cases where parentheses follow commas.

Using a comma directly before parentheses is grammatically incorrect. There are no appropriate cases where you should make use of this, and you should stick to only including the comma directly after them if the sentence requires it.

To help reiterate our point, you can look at the following examples:

  • Correct: The man, who stood still on the mountain (for a few months at least), decided it was finally time to move on.
  • Incorrect: The man, who stood still on the mountain (for a few months at least,) decided it was finally time to move on.

Can I Use Commas Inside A Parentheses?

We’ve spoken a lot about commas outside of parentheses. Now let’s circle back and see whether it’s ever correct to use commas inside them (namely before them).

Commas can go inside parentheses whenever they are part of a list. If we create a list to help explain more information, then we can use commas as well as parentheses to create what we are looking for.

To help you understand what we mean, you can refer to the following:

The kingdom (ruled by the British, French, and Americans) was finally laid to rest, and history forgot all about it.

If the commas are within the parentheses, then we could use them to create a list that might be more appropriate to the overall structure or meaning of the sentence.

Again, we could just as easily remove the parentheses, and the sentence would still make sense:

  • The kingdom was finally laid to rest, and history forgot all about it.

The parentheses are only there to provide more information that might be useful to keen readers.

Examples Of How To Use A Comma Inside A Parentheses

Here are a few more examples to help you with this:

  1. The republic (created by the Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans) seems to be running on fumes now, and it’s a matter of time before it implodes.
  2. Some fruit (like bananas, pineapples, and cherries) aren’t technically fruit at all. Or, at least, that’s what I heard.
  3. I like many flavors of ice cream (like strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla), but I wouldn’t ever say that it’s my favorite dessert.
  4. There are many countries I have visited (namely Kenya, Trinidad, and Tonga), and I would love to go and see a few more.
  5. You should talk to someone from my family (notably my father, mother, or second cousin), as they all have experience in these matters.
  6. His children (named Chloe, Marcus, and Craig) all thought that he was much smarter than he seemed to be.
  7. The best schools in the area (Marchlows, Tomlinsons, and Jack Kirby) have the best-reported grades of the century!

The only times where commas are appropriate inside parentheses is when you use them as part of a list. There are no other grammatically correct situations where commas are appropriate inside of them.

When Should I Not Use A Comma With Parentheses?

Finally, let’s see what happens when we don’t need commas at all. It is still grammatically correct, but we need to know more about it.

You do not need commas after parentheses when the parentheses are their own parenthetical element. Sometimes, parentheses can replace commas entirely, and it’s in these cases where no commas are required.

To help you understand this, look at the following:

  • The man stood still (and he wasn’t going to move anywhere soon).
  • You should have seen them (though I doubt you would have cared).

As you can see, both of the above examples use parentheses in the same way as commas would have worked. For example, if you take the first example, you might notice that the following is also correct:

  • The man stood still, and he wasn’t going to move anywhere soon.

It mostly depends on which you prefer. Stylistically, many people prefer commas for parenthetical elements, while parentheses work to clarify extra information that isn’t always covered in the main body of text.

Examples Of How To Use Parentheses Without A Comma

  1. We need to talk about us (if you have the time).
  2. Mr. Jacob (and his dog) like to explore the outside territory.
  3. The class (taught by Miss Christina) thought that they could explore the outer rim tonight.
  4. Mrs. Weasel’s house (the one down Clairmont Street) has finally been demolished!
  5. John (and his three children) are difficult for us to talk to.

Parentheses can sometimes add more information as a parenthetical element of their own creation. We do not need commas in any of these cases.

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