Parentheses & Brackets: Definitions, Uses, Examples
Parentheses are punctuation marks that are used to set off additional or supplemental information within a sentence. They are usually round or curved and are used to enclose a word, phrase, or clause that is not essential to the main part of the sentence but provides additional or explanatory information. Parentheses are often used to provide clarification to comment on the main part of the sentence, or to indicate that the enclosed information is optional or not necessary to understand the main idea. For example:
“My cousin,” (a city-employed hairdresser) “would be coming over next week.”
In this sentence, the information within the parentheses is not essential to the main idea but provides additional information about the sister. The sentence could still be understood without the information in the parentheses.
Origin of Parentheses and brackets
The origin of parentheses can be traced back to ancient Greek and Roman manuscripts, where they were used to indicate inserted text or to separate clauses. The modern use of parentheses is similar, with the marks being used to enclose material that is not essential to the structure or meaning of the main text, but which provides additional information or context.
Brackets are similar to parentheses, but are typically used to enclose material that is added by an editor or translator, rather than the original author. Brackets are also used in mathematical notation to enclose terms that are to be treated as a single unit.
Both parentheses and brackets are used in a variety of contexts, including in academic writing, technical writing, and fiction. They are a crucial part of written language and help to clarify the meaning of texts and make them easier to understand.
Parentheses vs. brackets
Parentheses ( ) and brackets [ ] are both types of punctuation marks that are used in writing to group or enclose words or phrases.
Parentheses are used to enclose additional or supplementary information that is not necessary for the main text. They are also used to indicate that something is a clarification or an explanation.
Brackets are used in a similar way to parentheses, but they are usually used to enclose information that is more important or relevant. They are also used to indicate that something has been added or changed in the original text. Brackets are also used in mathematics to indicate that the contents within them are to be treated as a group.
In summary, parentheses are used to enclose non-essential information, while brackets are used to enclose important or relevant information or to indicate that something has been added or changed in the original text.
Uses and application of parentheses
The two punctuation marks known as parentheses are most widely applied to insert unnecessary details or an afterthought into a phrase.
There are many different ways that parentheses can be used in writing.
- To enclose additional or supplementary information: Parentheses are often used to enclose information that is not essential to the main text, but that provides additional context or clarification. For example:
“The cake, which was pineapple and vanilla, was delicious at the new year party.”
- To indicate a pause or hesitation: In spoken language, we often use pauses or hesitation sounds to indicate a break or hesitation. In writing, we can use parentheses to indicate this. For example:
“Not sure (I’ll have to verify) to check if there are adequate vegetables for the meal”.
- To set off a list or series: Parentheses can be used to set off a list of items within a sentence. For example:
“I have to purchase a lemon (maybe cabbage) from the grocery shop”.
- To indicate a clarifying or explanatory note: Parentheses can be used to provide additional information or explanation within a sentence.
- To enclose letters or numbers in a list: In lists, parentheses can be used to enclose letters or numbers that identify items. For instance:
(a) chips (b) salt, (c) eggs, (d) ice cream [e] butter".
Common parentheses rules
There are a few general rules to keep in mind when using parentheses in writing;
- Use only one set of parentheses per sentence: It is generally best to use only one set of parentheses per sentence unless you are using them to enclose multiple sets of information.
- Place punctuation outside the parentheses: If the information within the parentheses is a complete sentence, the punctuation should be placed outside the parentheses. For example:
“The cake (which was pineapple and vanilla) was a hit at the party.”
If the information within the parentheses is not a complete sentence, the punctuation should be placed inside the parentheses. For example:
“The cake (it was pineapple and vanilla) was a hit at the party.”
- Use brackets to enclose information within parentheses: If you need to use parentheses within a parenthetical expression, you should use brackets instead. For example:
The cake, which had pineapple, strawberry, and vanilla (my favorite flavors), was well received during the gathering.
2. Be careful not to use parentheses too often: While parentheses can be useful for adding additional information or clarification, it is important not to overuse them. Too many parentheses can make your writing difficult to read and understand.
Uses and application of brackets
There are several different ways that brackets can be used in writing. Here are a few of the ways to include brackets;
- To enclose additional or relevant information: Brackets can be used to enclose information that is not part of the original text but is relevant or important for the reader to know.
- To indicate a change or correction: Brackets can be used to indicate that something has been added or changed in the original text. For example:
“The cake was awesome at the party [according to my nephew].”
- To enclose translations or explanations: Brackets can be used to enclose translations or explanations of words or phrases in a different language. For example:
“I love the city of Paris [Je t’aime la ville de Paris].”
- In mathematics: Brackets are often used in mathematics to indicate that the contents within them are to be treated as a group. For example:
“2 + [3 x (4 + 5)] = 17”
- To enclose letters or numbers in a list: In lists, brackets can be used to enclose letters or numbers that identify items. For example:
“The ingredients for making pie are bread flour, sugar, eggs, milk, butter, and others.”
In summary, brackets are used to enclose additional or relevant information, to indicate a change or correction, to enclose translations or explanations, and in mathematics and lists to enclose letters or numbers.
- Parentheses are long punctuation marks that are applied to divide words within a phrase. Parentheses relate to a particular kind of punctuation mark, whereas brackets point to the box-style brackets. Although parentheses serve to encompass letters, figures, phrases, symbols, and other elements in a sentence, brackets are utilized to surround text that is added into a quotation and additional elements within the parentheses.