Comma Before Or After brackets – Rules & Examples

08.06.24 Commas Time to read: 7min

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Especially within the academic writing landscape, commas wield remarkable influence in punctuation, where they enhance clarity and support effective communication. They play a crucial role in precisely conveying the intended message, segmenting thoughts, and embedding suitable pauses. This guide focuses on the strategic placement of commas before or after brackets, aiming to augment precision and enhance readability in your writing endeavour s.

When to place a comma before or after brackets

When deciding whether or not to place a comma before or after brackets, the context plays an integral role. A comma within brackets is typically due when the information it contains needs commas, like serial lists or after introductory phrases. Within the brackets, the comma should serve the parenthetical information, rather than the entyre main sentence.

When the brackets are part of an introductory phrase, a comma is placed after them, indicating that the main idea of the sentence is following. A comma is also due after the brackets when it is a part of a compound sentence, which consists of two independent clauses linked by a coordinating conjunction. This also includes complex compound sentences, which comprise two or more independent clauses and at least one dependent clause.

Using a comma before the opening parenthesis is considered grammatically incorrect even if the comma would be due if the brackets were removed. On the contrary, the overall rule for no comma after brackets is that if the sentence itself does not require any comma, then you should not include one. Commas before and after brackets are also not necessary when they include essential and non-essential information.

Comma

Part of an introductory phrase

Part of a compound sentence

Part of complex compound sentences

No comma

Before brackets

Essential parenthetical element

Non-essential parenthetical element

The rules for placing a comma before or after brackets may vary depending on the Style Guide you follow in your paper. Therefore, it is crucial to stay consistent and adhere to the given rules throughout the whole paper. This is integral for staying within the standards of academic integrity and maintaining credibility in your work.

Comma before or after brackets

The primary rules for placing commas after brackets is when they serve as a part of an introductory phrase, compound sentence, or complex compound sentence. The sections below will delve into each scenario, providing a deeper insight.

Part of an introductory phrase

Generally, when a sentence needs a comma without the parenthetical information, you should place a comma. A suitable scenario for this is when the brackets follow an introductory phrase and pose part of it. Without the brackets, a comma would be placed regardless, thus, you must place one after the closing parenthesis.

Examples

  • In the late 19th century (ca. 1890), the city experienced a significant population boom.
  • At our headquarters (in New York), we strive to create an innovative environment.
  • Despite the challenges (severe rain autumn), the team completed the project on time.

Part of a compound sentence

Compound sentences consist of two independent clauses and are connected by a coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS) and a comma. When the first independent clause ends in brackets as part of it, a comma should follow the closing parenthesis. In this case, the comma would be part of the sentence regardless, and therefore, should also be set when brackets are included.

Examples

  • Anna lost her phone (for the fifth time), but luckily her dog found it.
  • The software was redesigned (a month after the launch), and it is better now.
  • The researchers made progress (for the first time), but there is still a long way to go.

Part of complex compound sentences

Complex compound sentences typically consist of several independent clauses and at least one dependent clause. Dependent clauses are commonly set off by commas, which means that a comma should follow the closing parenthesis when it ends a dependent clause.

Examples

  • Although they agreed to postpone the decision (after much debate), the urgency of the matter compelled us to reconvene earlier, and we decided to proceed with the project.
  • Because the policy showed promising results (implemented last quarter), our team is optimistic about the future, and we plan to expand our efforts in the upcoming months.
  • If the experiment yields the expected outcomes (indicated by preliminary data), we will proceed with the next phase of research, and we will publish our findings shortly after.

No comma before or after brackets

Essentially, there should never be placed a comma before brackets. Furthermore, not using commas after brackets is often appropriate when the information within the brackets is seamlessly integrated and essential to the meaning of the sentence or when they enclose information that is non-essential to the meaning of the sentence.

Before brackets

Although there can be exceptions to enhance clarity and emphasis, placing a comma before brackets is less about hard-and-fast rules and rather about the nuances of sentence flow and stylistic choices. However, it is advised to avoid placing a comma before brackets, as it is generally considered grammatically incorrect.

Essential parenthetical element

When brackets contain essential information, and the sentence continues without requiring a pause after the brackets, you typically do not use a comma after the closing parenthesis.

Examples

  • The study focuses on endangered species (specifically bees) and their role in pollination.
  • The committee increased funding for the project (by 20%) to ensure completion.
  • She will relocate to the US (her spouse’s home) in the spring to start a new chapter.

Non-essential parenthetical element

Non-essential information in a sentence is not integral to the overall meaning and could be left out without altering the meaning. When this information is enclosed in brackets and closely integrated with the surrounding sentence, setting a comma before or after it is unnecessary for clarity and flow.

Examples

  • The new software (released last Thursday) has significantly improved the process.
  • The participants (all volunteers) showed remarkable improvement in their symptoms.
  • The expert (in renewable energy) will address advancements in solar technology.

Test yourself!

Practice sheet

cheque if you got a full grasp of placing a comma before or after brackets by placing comma or no comma in the following practice sentences. You can find the solutions in the second tab.

  1. We need to submit the report by Friday (no exceptions) or we risk delaying the project.
  2. The conference (held annually) attracts experts from around the world.
  3. Her novel (inspired by true events) received critical acclaim upon its release.
  4. The recipe (a family secret) has been passed down through generations.
  5. After the meeting (which lasted two hours) we decided to take a break before continuing.
  6. The new policy (effective immediately) aims to improve workplace safety.
  7. The training session (designed for new employees),starts next week.
  8. Our holiday plans (including the hotel reservations) were cancelled due to the storm.
  9. He always starts his day with a run (usually around the park) which helps him focus.
  10. The book (a gift from her sister) was her favourite read of the year.
  1. We need to submit the report by Friday (no exceptions), or we risk delaying the project. (Comma)
  2. The conference (held annually) attracts experts from around the world. (No comma)
  3. Her novel (inspired by true events) received critical acclaim upon its release. (No comma)
  4. The recipe (a family secret), has been passed down through generations. (Comma)
  5. After the meeting (which lasted two hours), we decided to take a break before continuing. (Comma)
  6. The new policy (effective immediately) aims to improve workplace safety. (No comma)
  7. The training session (designed for new employees), starts next week. (Comma)
  8. Our holiday plans (including the hotel reservations) were cancelled due to the storm. (No comma)
  9. He always starts his day with a run (usually around the park), which helps him focus. (Comma)
  10. The book (a gift from her sister) was her favourite read of the year. (No comma)
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FAQs

A comma before brackets is generally considered grammatically incorrect. However, parentheticals typically occur at the end of a clause or right before a comma. Thus, it is common to place a comma after brackets.

Commas are placed within brackets if the parenthetical information, separate from the rest of the sentence, requires a comma. This can for example be a serial list. Otherwise, the rules in this article should be considered when placing a comma before or after brackets.

Here are a few examples of placing comma after brackets:

  • The committee (after much deliberation), decided to postpone the event.
  • Her novel (her third this year), has been nominated for a national award.
  • Our team (consisting of ten members), works on developing innovative solutions.