pexels-photo.jpgMy posts on the  topic AWESOME WAYS TO RAISE YOUR GRADE IN ENGLISH @ HIGH SCHOOL have so far focused on the  . . .

My FOURTH and last post is on the correct use of all forms of PARENTHESES/BRACKETS.


There are four main types of parentheses that can be used in writing. However, not all of them are acceptable for use within all fields of writing. The four main types of brackets are:

  1. Curved Brackets or Parentheses (…) are the most commonly used and are the focus of this article. They are always used in pairs.
  2. Square Brackets […] are most often used to include additional information from an outside source (someone other than the original author).
  3. Curly Brackets {…} are often used in prose to designate a list of equal choices.
  4. Angle Brackets <…> are typically used to enclose and illustrate highlighted information.


  • Curved brackets – ( )

Brackets (parentheses) are punctuation marks used within a sentence to include information that is not essential to the main point. Information within parentheses is usually supplementary; were it removed, the meaning of the sentence would remain unchanged.

Use parentheses [ ( ) ] to include material that you want to de-emphasize or that wouldn’t normally fit into the flow of your text but you want to include nonetheless.

If the material within parentheses appears within a sentence, do not use a capital letter or period to punctuate that material, even if the material is itself a complete sentence. (A question mark or exclamation mark, however, might be appropriate and necessary.)

  • Thirty-five years after his death, Robert Frost (do you remember him?) remains America’s favorite poet.

If the material within your parentheses is written as a separate sentence (not included within another sentence), punctuate it as if it were a separate sentence.

  • Thirty-five years after his death, Robert Frost (we remember him at Kennedy’s inauguration) remains America’s favorite poet.

If the material is important enough, use some other means of including it within your text—even if it means writing another sentence.

  • Thirty-five years after his death, Robert Frost remains America’s favorite poet. (We remember him at Kennedy’s inauguration.)

Informal writingused heavily within stream-of-consciousness writing as a way for the author to show the reader what a character is thinking without having to create dialogue. Be careful though, because the overuse of parentheses can lead to a cluttered and confusing text.

Use curved brackets for your in-text citations These citations usually occur at the end of a sentence and provide the reader with the source of the information that the author used in the sentence, eg:

  •  “It has been said that the origin of the spoon dates back to the Middle Paleolithic, when man began using the hollowed out shells of small turtles to sip water (Ferreira, 1986).”

The information in the parentheses is essential, not to the meaning of the sentence, but to avoid plagiarism.

NOTE that parentheses tend to de-emphasize text whereas dashes tend to make material seem even more important.

Using brackets—whether in a business plan or a short story—can be an effective way to include extra information in a sentence. Although they can be useful, try not to use brackets excessively or the clarity of your writing will suffer.

pexels-photo-261895.jpegTHE BRACKETS [ ]

  • Square brackets – [ ]

Use square brackets [ [ ] ] in the following situations:

You can use them to include explanatory words or phrases within quoted language, eg:

  • Lew Perkins, the Director of Athletic Programs, said that Pumita Espinoza, the new soccer coach [at Notre Dame Academy] is going to be a real winner.

If you are quoting material and you’ve had to change the capitalization of a word or change a pronoun to make the material fit into your sentence, enclose that changed letter or word(s) within brackets, eg:

  • Espinoza charged her former employer with “falsification of [her] coaching record.”

Also within quotations, you could enclose [sic] – (we italicize it)to show that misspelled words or inappropriately used words are not your own typos or blunders but are part of an accurately rendered quotation, eg:

  • Reporters found three mispelings [sic] in the report.

NOTE, also, that the word sic means “thus” or “that’s how it was” and is not an abbreviation; thus, no period. It is bad manners, however, to use this device to show that another writer is a lousy speller or otherwise unlettered. Also, use it only when it is important to maintain the original spelling for some reason.

If you have italicized or underlined words within quoted language that was not italicized or underlined in the original, you can note that change in brackets included within the sentence or paragraph:

It was the atmosphere of the gym that thrilled Jacob, not the eight championship banners hanging from the beams [italics added].

(“Italics mine” or “emphasis added” would be other acceptable phrases.)

You can use brackets to include parenthetical material inside parenthetical material, eg:

  • Chernwell was poet laureate of Bermuda (a largely honorary position [unpaid]) for ten years.

Be kind to your reader, however, and use this device sparingly.

Again, Dear Reader, the use of all forms of parentheses is not an easy concept to master if you don’t practice using them. Use them in your everyday writing so that they become second nature.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!


  1. andrew mutyavaviri says:

    U spot.on.without.practising using brackets in writing it is nxt to.impossible to.get their use right.thanks fo highlighting e differences between e of us its a case of shape nd preference mo thn e xact use

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