I found this sentence while reading よだかの星:


It seems pretty obvious that the parenthetical sentence is the Nightjar's internal monologue... but parenthesis aren't normally used like that in English
(English uses quotes or nothing for internal dialogue).
The nightjar stopped to think, "Why am I hated by everyone like this?"
Why am I hated by everyone like this, the nightjar stopped to think.

And that got me thinking, (assuming my translation isn't way, way off...)
Are parenthesis () commonly used instead of 「」for internal dialogues in Japanese?
Are there any other notable differences between English & Japanese parenthesis?

  • 1
    In English internal monologue like this is often marked with italics, although it's up to the author and not set in stone.
    – user1478
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 5:50

1 Answer 1


Yes parentheses are used like this in novels. From Wikipedia 括弧:


And "(?)" as in "ハードディスク(?)とメモリ" may be not very common in English text, although this is nonstandard in Japanese anyway. The remaining part of the explanation seems to be true both for English and Japanese parentheses, so I think these are the only significant difference.

  • I've never seen (?). What does it mean?
    – Hyperglyph
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 19:38
  • @Hyperglyph It's used to indicate the word right before it may not be the correct word. In the example above, the writer was not certain if the correct term was ハードディスク.
    – naruto
    Commented Feb 27, 2018 at 19:42

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