Section 1: Drafting Definitions > Parenthetical and Sentence Definitions
L2: Parenthetical and Sentence Definitions
Definitions can be short or long, informal or formal. The three types of definitions are parenthetical, sentence, and extended. (Extended definitions are discussed in L3.)
A parenthetical definition is a short explanation of a word or phrase placed unobtrusively in a sentence. Sometimes a parenthetical definition is itself only a word or short phrase.
Burger King has been trying unsuccessfully for years to buy the equity stock
(common stock) of McDonald's.
A parenthetical definition may also be a longer phrase or clause.
His uncle sells municipal revenue bonds, bonds issued to finance projects
that will eventually generate their own revenues, such as a toll bridge.
A sentence definition is a one-sentence explanation of a word or phrase. Sentence definitions are useful when your readers require a more formal or more informative clarification than parenthetical definitions provide.
A sentence definition usually follows a standard pattern in which the item being defined is placed in a class or category of similar items and then distinguished from them.
BASIC is a simple computer language, popularly used by students and
microcomputer owners, in which line numbers precede each statement.
An acoustic coupler is a modem that attaches to a telephone handset to
transmit computer information over telephone lines.