How to Use Brackets

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There are two types of brackets: round brackets and square brackets. Round brackets are used for parenthesis while square brackets are used for clarification. This week, we’ll look at how to use both types of brackets as well as other ways to offset a parenthesis.


A parenthesis is a word or phrase inserted into a grammatically-complete sentence as an explanation or afterthought. The sentence would still make sense if the parenthesis was removed.

There are three main ways to mark off a parenthesis:

Click here to make sure you don’t confuse em dashes with hyphens.

  1. Round brackets
    • Daisy’s parents (Sally and James) are visiting France next month.
    • Spellzone users have access to a variety of word lists (word lists, spelling tests, etc.).
  2. Em dashes
    • Daisy’s parents – Sally and James – are visiting France next month.
    • Spellzone users have access to a variety of resources – word lists, spelling tests, etc.
  3. Commas
    • Daisy’s parents, Sally and James, are visiting France next month.
    • Spellzone users, whether they’re individual subscribers or part of an establishment, have access to a variety of word lists.

    Click here to for our top tips for using commas.

Square Brackets

Square brackets (and sometimes round brackets) are used when someone who isn’t the original writer of a text wants to add words to clarify meaning.

    • They [Sally’s parents] are visiting France next month.
    • The Spellzone website has many word lists [over 500 000].

If a pair of brackets fall at the end of a sentence, a full stop should be added after the closed bracket.

If you found this article useful, you may also be interested in our other articles on punctuation and grammar:

19 Nov 2018
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"I would like to thank you so much for this great website. I have always been ashamed of my spelling but after a few lessons I am already better. It is filling in all the gaps. Thanks."

Student, France