Parentheses at the end of a question: '?' inside or out ?


Senior Member

I am not a native English speaker, and the use of parentheses in English is different from that of my mother tongue (French).

I know that when ending an affirmative sentence with a parenthese, the 'period' character should be included IN the parentheses.

But what should I do in the case of a question mark or exclamation mark ?

My example is a phrase in a software user-interface :

Option 1. Do you want to keep the default value (clicking on 'No' will end the export process)?


Option 2. Do you want to keep the default value (clicking on 'No' will end the export process?)

I am sure there are options to rephrase and remove the parentheses completely, hence solving the problem, but I am still curious about the answer to this question!

Thank you for any input.
  • entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The question mark goes at the end of the sentence. The brackets (parentheses) contain only material that belongs there. So:

    Do you want some Gorgonzola (a kind of cheese)?

    You're not asking a question 'a kind of cheese?', so that element doesn't get a question mark. You should be able to remove both brackets and everything between and what remains should still be correctly punctuated - after closing up spaces, at least.

    But I agree with Filsmith that in this case it's better to close the sentence at 'value', and keep the bracketed part separate from it.