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I keep on running into this problem. I will have a parenthetical phrase (which is something set off by parentheses, rather like this, for those of you that do not know), but I need to include multiple sentences in it. The normal punctuation for a parenthetical phrase at the end of the sentence is:

Sentence (parenthetical phrase).

Note how the period is outside of the parentheses. But if you add two sentences:

Sentence (Phrase1. Phrase2.).

The double period doesn't look right. I also feel obligated to capitalize the first word within the phrase, where I normally don't with just one parenthetical sentence.

What is the correct way to punctuate sentences like this? Or are two sentences within one parenthetical phrase not permitted? Are they supposed to be separate sentences?

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If you have a full sentence as a parenthetical, you generally don't capitalize and punctuate it that way. So it normally appears:

Dick and Jane watch Spot run (they know Spot likes to chase cars).

But when you have more than one sentence in the parenthetical, you have to indicate where each complete sentence stops and starts. To avoid the weird .). construction, I might write it thus:

Dick and Jane watch Spot run (They know Spot likes to chase cars. He's never caught one, and wouldn't know what to do with one if he did, but he chases them. The cat, being more sensible, doesn't chase anything).

Although if you have that much of a thought in the parentheses, I would move the parenthetical out of the original sentence altogether, and then capitalize and punctuate normally. You would continue with the rest of your prose afterward, and the parenthetical is just between two sentences.

Dick and Jane watch Spot run. (They know Spot likes to chase cars. He's never caught one, and wouldn't know what to do with one if he did, but he chases them. The cat, being more sensible, doesn't chase anything.) Mom told Dad he had better buy Spot a leash, or be prepared to explain the concept of "roadkill" to Dick and Jane.

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    This last one is the only option that really makes sense to me. If you have multiple whole sentences in there, move them out of the other sentence and let them stand on their own -- much easier to both write and read that way. – Monica Cellio Mar 25 '15 at 1:04
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    One and three: yes; two: no. – user5645 Mar 25 '15 at 16:11
  • @what I know two looks awful. I have seen it done elsewhere, and it most directly answers the OP's question, which is why I included it. But it's really awful, and the correct answer is version three. – Lauren Ipsum Mar 25 '15 at 20:11

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