Parentheses and Brackets

The difference between a ‘bracket’ and a ‘parentheses’ can be a bit confusing. Generally, parentheses refers to round brackets () and brackets to square brackets[].

Parentheses are punctuation marks that are used to set off information within a text or paragraph. For example:

Mount Everest (in the Himalayas) is the highest mountain in the world.

Brackets, sometimes called square brackets, are most often used to show that words have been added to a direct quotation. Sometimes, when quoting a person or document, adding a word or two is necessary to provide enough context for the quote to make sense. For example:

He [the police officer] can’t prove they did it.

Treat parentheses or brackets and the words inside them as separate from the rest of the sentence. Any sentence that contains a parenthetical element should still make sense if the element is removed. For example:

Kiril (studied all day for) the grammar test.(incorrect)

Kiril studied (all day) for the grammar test.(correct)

Kiril studied for the grammar test.(correct)

Periods, question marks and exclaminations should go before the closing parenthesis or bracket only if they belong to the words inside the parentheses or brackets. If the punctuation belongs to the surrounding sentence, put them outside the parentheses or brackets. Never put a comma immediately before a closing parenthesis. For example:

After lunch (an enormous, healthy salad,) Peter treated himself to ice cream.(incorrect)

After lunch, (an enormous, healthy salad) Peter treated himself to ice cream.(incorrect)

After lunch (an enormous, healthy salad), Peter treated himself to ice cream.(correct)

Learning is easy and fun!

2 Comments

  1. Very well explained. I didn’t even knew that square brackets are used in English. I have always used parentheses but now I know the difference between them and square brackets. The examples were easy to understand. Thanks for sharing!

  2. In most cases, parentheses or round brackets can used in place of commas so, we can sometimes replace commas with parentheses but, don’t over do it.

    Nice article with clear examples. 👍

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