Brackets are one of the most common punctuation marks your pupils will learn about in a sentence. They are mainly used to add parentheses (a phrase containing additional information) to a sentence. Like we did just now!

The sentence will still make sense without the added information, but it usually brings something extra or interesting to the sentence. Here’s an example of brackets in a sentence:

She finally answered that she didn’t understand the question.

She finally answered (after taking five minutes to think) that she didn’t understand the question.

As we see from this example, brackets can make a sentence more effective and give a bit of context to what’s being said.

What are the types of frames?

Before we learn how to use brackets in a sentence, it’s important to note that there are four different types of frames, and they each have slightly other uses:

  • Round brackets add an extra clause or information to a sentence that is usually non-essential. For example, My friend Chloe (who is three months older than me) is coming to my house tonight.
  • Square brackets are mainly used to enclose words added by someone other than the original writer or speaker, typically to clarify the situation. For example, He [the police officer] can’t prove they did it.
  • Curly brackets (which look like this { } ) are not as common as the first two types, mainly used to indicate a group of lines that should be taken together, as when referring to several lines of poetry that should be repeated.
  • Angle brackets are rarely used when writing in English but are common in other languages, such as Spanish. In English, angle brackets are most often used in online communications.

But when using brackets in a sentence to insert parentheses, we usually use curved brackets. So now that we know all about frames let’s find out how to use brackets in a sentence correctly!

How do you use brackets in a sentence?

You can use brackets in many ways, for example, to indicate a change in capitalization, but the most common use your students will learn is how to use brackets to add information to a sentence. You can insert data into frames to add more context for your reader. For example:

  • Without brackets: Bob was in charge of driving the forklift.
  • With shelves: Bob (who had no training) was in charge of driving the forklift.
  • Without brackets: After Louise finished her homework, she played computer games.
  • With brackets: After Louse finished her homework (an essay about Shakespeare), she played computer games.
  • Without brackets: Mila studied for the grammar test.
  • With brackets: Mila studied (all night) for the grammar test.

In the second sentence, we have much more context to understand the situation in the sentence. Adding more detail can also make a sentence much more interesting!

The brackets set off, add emphasis, or further explain information presented to a reader. The brackets have slightly different functions and limited usage in academic writing, but learning to use a bracket in grammar is as easy as identifying and marking the extra information in a sentence.

That seems quite simple, right? However, students need to be careful not to overuse brackets in a sentence. All the information included in the brackets is extra information. Therefore, it is important that sentences still make sense even when the brackets and additional information are removed! This means that you can’t include any crucial information inside the brackets. Check out these examples of brackets used correctly and incorrectly to see the difference.

  • Correct: Mila studied (all night) for the grammar test.
  • Incorrect: Mila (studied all night) for the grammar test.

How do you punctuate a sentence using brackets?

Students must also understand how to punctuate within and around the brackets in a sentence. Follow a few of these simple tips to punctuate around brackets perfectly.

  • Full stops: As a rule, you should add full stops inside brackets when an entire sentence is parenthetical. However, it would help if you placed the full stop outside the brackets in all other cases.
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