When writing in English, quite often I'll want to express a connection between two noun phrases as “X (or Y)” or “X (and Y)”, where the punctuation adds a notion of “Y is a little beside the point, but to be completely correct I'll mention it in passing”.

The office is closed on weekends (and federal holidays).

This question (or a similar one) has been asked before.

When expressing this sort of sentiment in Japanese, it feels really weird to write X(とY) or X(かY). Do people ever write this kind of sentence?



Using parentheses like this feels icky, at least to my intermediate-learner sensibilities. Maybe I feel a little better about adverb-like expressions like



but I've heard that または especially is pretty formal so it doesn't feel like a good option anyway.

What's a good 日本語っぽい alternative to these “parenthesized connectives”? Should I just drop the parentheses; are they too English-y?

1 Answer 1


This kind of interrupting parentheses are a common practice in Japanese too. Beware that, however, the linguistic and cultural difference between these two languages might make literal translations not working.

As for your examples,


The parentheses seems hardly useful to me, partly because this 祝日 is felt neither exceptional (Japan has approx. one and half 祝日 a month), nor related to 週末 or other, nor out of linear flow of this sentence etc. The following could be much better:


which presents 祝日 before we know that the sentence tells about closing days. (Never mind that I took the liberty to adjust the phrasing to be more like conventional Japanese.) It doesn't mean that equivalent construction with yours is always invalid. For example:

The first arrivers are the two (and an animal).

such expressions are quite popular.


is the same. But the problem here is that how you use Japanese か as if English or, which is being effectively a subordinating conjunction that leads an afterthought tagged to the previous word. The Japanese counterpart doesn't have such a function, so in this case you should say instead:


The quoted みたいなこと is grammatically incomplete, so that it forces you to parse it twice この質問 or この質問みたいなこと to achieve the same rhetoric of your original English.

You can parenthesize か when it stands for "either... or" and what it connects are simple noun clauses.

I hear a police car (or ambulance) has passed by.

  • Thanks for your answer! I realize my examples are a bit artificial, but in some “X (or Y)” or even just “X or Y” cases, the “optionally parse this grammar” trick will not work because X and Y are completely different noun phrases. What should I do in such a case? (Do you happen to know a good resource on how か differs from or?)
    – lynn
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 21:54
  • 1
    @Lynn I just wanted to say that your usage of か is unnatural here. Parenthesizing from か for such isn't wrong. Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 6:46

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