Brackets, Braces, and Parentheses – Where to Use Them

Has anyone ever sent you a message that you wanted to read, but it wasn’t well-punctuated, and it just wasn’t coming together? If you have, you already know what punctuation do- Make texts easy to read and understand.

The absence of punctuation can wreak a lot of havoc in writing because punctuation give the written text its intended meaning. Still, the lack of it can make a sentence mean something else entirely.

Writing can often be difficult, especially when you have additional information to slot in and you have no idea where to place it. Fitting extra information into a sentence can be difficult, but it would please you to know that Brackets, Braces, and Parentheses help you do this seamlessly.

Now you know what these 3 do, but you don’t know what the difference between them is, why they’re different and how to make use of them; this article is here to save the day. Your only job is to read to the end.

The difference between Brackets and Parentheses is one that is very unclear to many writers. There are many types of brackets, and parentheses happen to be one of them.

By the time you’re done reading this, you should have a clear idea of why these two are different, but first, let’s talk about Brackets. (Also read a definite guide for punctuation)

Let’s Start With Brackets

Brackets help you solve the problem of inserting additional information into a sentence, but there are about four different types of brackets, and all four of them serve other purposes.

You will come across four types of brackets: Curved Brackets or Parentheses, Square brackets or Brackets, Angle Brackets, and Curly Brackets. As you already know, the most common type of brackets is the Curved bracket.

Square brackets, also called brackets, are used to separate or enclose words or additional information provided by a person who is not the original speaker or writer.

For Instance: He [ the father of the girl] does not want her to attend the party.

Using square brackets in that sentence provides additional information about who the person in question is, even though the original speaker didn’t offer it.

Brackets help you to slot in another person’s words into an original text. Asides from this purpose, here are some other ways to make use of square brackets.

  • To Provide Clarification

In the statement, He [my father] does not want me to attend the party; the square brackets provide some clarification about who the man in question is.

  • To Provide Extra Information

– The countries involved in the project are all African countries [ South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria].

Here, the square brackets help you to add information about the countries.

  • To Slot in Words That Have Been Left out or Correct Misspellings

– The girl asked [a] good question.

The use of brackets shows that in the previous version of the statement above, somebody omitted the article (a).

  • To Modify a Speaker’s Words

She love[s] dancing. Here, the use of square brackets implies that the speaker’s original words were, “I love dancing.”

  • To Insert Additional Information within Parentheses

The package contains many items (mainly shoes, dresses [formal] and bags).

Now What Are Braces {Curly Brackets}?

Curly Brackets or Braces also serve similar purposes to brackets and parentheses. However, braces are more suitable in the following cases;

  • For Creating a List Of Options

– Which of these snacks is your favorite {Pizza, Hamburger, Chips, or Popcorn}?

  • In Music, To Make a List of Chords

  • In Math Operations Like Sets or to Make a List of Numbers

– He was asked to pick any of the numbers {4,8,10,12 and 15}

Braces are not frequently used as brackets and parentheses in written language; they are used more frequently in mathematics and science

So, Let’s Go Through Parentheses (Round Brackets)

Curved brackets, also known as Round brackets or Parentheses, are majorly used to add extra information in a sentence, significantly when the absence of such data does not affect the statement’s meaning.

For example, Allison Lacombe (CEO of Lacombe groups) was also present at the meeting. Taking out the words in round brackets does not affect the reader’s ability to understand the statement. However, the additional information helps the reader to know more about Allison Lacombe.

In informal writing, like novels, parentheses can reflect the characters’ thoughts without having to create any dialogue.

Authors often use parentheses to express the unspoken thoughts of characters, but you must be careful not to overuse around brackets while writing as a writer or an author. Excessive use of parentheses can make your text confusing to readers.

Parentheses can also serve other purposes, these include;

  • To Show That the Word Can Be in Its Plural or Singular Form

For example; You can keep your book(s) on the shelf.

  • To Include a Personal Comment

Many people like to read poems (I don’t). Here, the round brackets help to reflect the speaker’s personal preference.

  • To State Abbreviations

The USA (United States of America) has 50 states, not 52.

Parenthesis used here explains the full meaning of the abbreviation and, at the same time, provides the reader with additional information.

  • Citations and Academic Papers

Parenthesis can also be used in citations and academic papers to list the sources of the information used. In this case, using parenthesis helps prevent plagiarism but does not change the sentence’s original meaning.

  • To Give Additional Information Using a Complete Sentence and to Indicate Difference with the Original Sentence

– Sarah, Richard and John attended a concert. (They went to school together).

The function of parenthesis is a lot similar to that of commas, and in many cases, commas can take the place of round brackets, so do not hesitate to use commas when you can (Where to use commas).

Rules to Using Brackets, Braces, and Parentheses

Now that you know where to use brackets, braces, and parentheses, some rules will help you use them correctly. These include;

  • Use Parentheses to insert or add comments to your writing. Use brackets for editorial purposes, to insert comments into someone else’s work.
  • Use brackets, braces, and parenthesis in pairs, one at the beginning of a sentence and the other at the end.
  • Always use a period after using brackets, braces, and parenthesis; never before them, because they are part of the sentence. If the content in brackets or parenthesis ends a sentence, the period goes after it (Learn about where to use periods).

– Many people like to read poems (I don’t).

  • If the parenthesis content is a complete sentence different from the original one, periods go inside the parenthesis.

– Sarah, Richard and John attended a concert. (They went to school together).

  • When correcting errors or misspellings in a sentence or quotation, always include the Latin word “sic” in brackets.

– Aeroplanes are to Airports, as Sheep [sic] are to ports.

Sic, in this example, shows that somebody used the word Sheep in place of Ships.

Wrapping It up

Life indeed becomes a lot easier when we learn some things; writing also becomes more comfortable when you learn to punctuate. Understanding how to use punctuation and learning about where to use brackets, braces, and parenthesis right helps readers understand your work better. Now that you have a better knowledge of the use of brackets, braces, and parenthesis, you can go ahead and write seamlessly.

Scientific editing

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