The Grammar Factor: punctuation with brackets, provided, solely, Facebook group

By Mary Morel | November 2016

Your grammar questions answered

Punctuation with brackets
Question: A colleague often uses a full stop after a bracket that has an exclamation mark at the end:

(So it looks like this!).

Is it correct to have a full stop after an exclamation mark in a bracket? I’m sure it’s wrong but not sure why!

Answer: In the example you gave the full stop is wrong.

But if that statement were part of a sentence, it would be correct. Here’s an example:

I am writing this in the middle of the night (I can’t sleep!).
I am writing this in the middle of the night. (I can’t sleep!)

In the first example, the information in brackets is part of the sentence. In the second statement, the information in brackets is a separate sentence.

I think dashes sometimes work better than brackets in informal writing. Brackets feel intrusive at times. What do you think?

Position of ‘solely’
Question: Which is correct?

Success cannot solely depend on hard work.
Success cannot depend solely on hard work.

In your answer can you say why?

Answer: The general rule with adverbs is that you put them as close as possible to what they modify. Following that rule, the second sentence is more correct.

However, I think ‘solely’ is a bit like ‘only’, and The Guide to Grammar & Writing website says:

‘The issue of the proper placement of ‘only’ has long been argued among grammarians. Many careful writers will insist that ‘only’ be placed immediately before the word or phrase it modifies. Thus ‘I only gave him three dollars’ would be rewritten as ‘I gave him only three dollars’. Some grammarians, however, have argued that such precision is not really necessary, that there is no danger of misreading ‘I only gave him three dollars’ and that ‘only’ can safely and naturally be placed between the subject and the verb. The argument has been going on for two hundred years.’

Question: Can I use ‘provided’ as an adjective before ‘information’ or only as a past participle after the noun. For example:

I have examined the information provided
I have examined the provided information

Answer: I think the first sentence sounds better, but wasn’t sure that the second sentence was actually wrong, so I posted your question to the Online Writing Training Facebook group.

The consensus was that ‘provided’ cannot be used as an adjective. I am still not sure because I think the following sentence, which is similar, sounds OK:

I have examined the enclosed information.

What do you think?

Self-paced grammar courses
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