How to Use Brackets

Brackets, or parentheses, can seem tricky, but the rules of how to use them are fairly simple. This is a grammar guide to using brackets.

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Brackets, or parentheses, are used quite frequently in writing. In order to use them correctly there are just a couple of simple rules to follow.

You use brackets—( )—to give additional information to a sentence that isn’t essential to the overall meaning of the sentence. If you omitted that information, the sentence would still make perfect sense. The opening bracket, or parenthesis, is placed at the beginning of the supplementary text, and the closing one at the end.

The car (which was red) sped down the road.

If you removed the brackets and their contents, the sentence remains complete; the brackets are an aside. If the bracketed information comes at the end of the sentence, the full stop should be placed outside of the bracket.

He ate the cake (it was chocolate).

You should, however, put the finishing full stop inside of the bracket if it is a separate sentence.

Jim likes cake. (He really does.)

The writing inside of the brackets is not a part of the subject of the sentence.

Jim and his dog were running.

Jim (and his dog) was running.

By placing ‘and his dog’ into brackets you are removing that extra subject of the sentence, making the sole subject ‘Jim.’

It is important to ensure that all content within the brackets is grammatically correct and that the grammar inside of the brackets is its own standalone entity.

He thought about cake (or did he?).

Even though the sentence looks as though it ends on a question mark that is just the context within bracket; the main sentence still needs to be closed appropriately.

Brackets are quite an easy thing to use and can add a little bit extra to your writing.

Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.

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