Friday, January 21, 2011

Whatever It Is I Think I See...

When you look at this magazine cover, what comes to mind?

Do you see two lovely, glowing mothers-to-be?

Do you see two reality TV stars desperate for publicity?

Perhaps the poetic side of you is tickled that their names are alliterative?

You know what I see?

Parentheses

I can’t help it. Ever since I got involved in all this grammar stuff, I’ve become obsessed.

Kendra’s baby bump is the start parenthesis and Kourtney’s is the end parenthesis.

Now do you see it?

We use parentheses to enclose extra information that is not crucial to the meaning of the sentence. (I am not suggesting that these babies-to-be are not important, but let’s be realistic: like a proper tabloid article, the main focus of the article will be the ladies’ weight gain, mood swings, sex lives, and implants.)

According to this US Weekly article, the material inside the parentheses is about five months old. This means that the fetus is about half its birth length and weighs one pound.

My point?

The material inside the parentheses is not fully developed, and when the material inside the parentheses is not fully developed (i.e., when it is not a complete sentence), the period goes outside the end parenthesis, like this:

Kendra has been working out, but Kourtney hasn’t been focused on physical fitness (although she used to be a running enthusiast).

On the other hand, when the material inside the parentheses forms a complete sentence, the period goes inside the parentheses.

Kendra starts each day with a bowl of her favorite cereal, Lucky Charms, and then sends an assistant to fetch a BLT sandwich. (I want an assistant to fetch my food.)

And while we're on the subject of body parts that look like punctuation marks, here's a comma:


And this is a colon on its side:


And I'll stop here before this post becomes R rated.

11 comments:

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Hee hee. Great post.

Gorilla Bananas said...

My favourite example is in Great Expectations.

("You listen to this," my sister said to me, in a severe parethesis.)

The Shanner of Attention said...

You never disappoint. (Not that I expect you would.)

MartyrMom said...

Come on...what is the exclamation point?!

Theresa Milstein said...

If we were looking for parentheses to block out what's not important, they should've fit all the info in the middle of those two bellies. You know what, I think the boobs and knees look like parentheses too. So none of it's important.

Love your new layout!

Hart Johnson said...

*giggles* I think the parentheses include those ladies, too... Good GAWD why does anybody care about these people... However I love the example. (I particularly love you noting that you want an assistant.) *snort*

KAZ said...

My first day of class is today, and I need advice on how to properly set the tone for my students. Its a graduate level class. I'm wearing a crisp Italian suit, I carry all papers in a proper attache. I'm thinking of just staring at the class until the last student is quiet and then stating "One rule: If you show up after me, you're late." Then right into the material. What do you think?

Sniff said...

What a refreshing and creative way of looking at a magazine cover! I wish my old grammar instructor had come up with such a humorous way of teaching.

Referring to your comment on the shoes - I don't know about the designer. But I'm certain Mr Blahnik at least must have been inspired by Cinderella's glass slippers when he created the bright blue Cedaraby model Carrie wore. Truly magic! ;)

Christopher said...

I honestly did not know that, I've always just put them outside.

Boonie S said...

Did you mean parent-heses?
Fun post. Thanks.

All the best, Boonie

HulaBuns said...

I love your blog's new look! I've been moving and stuff and haven't visited in a while (my apologies for that) but I love it! It looks great! Yet another lesson, thanks so much, I know I need it! :)