written by: Heather Marie Kosur
• edited by: Rebecca Scudder
• updated: 11/29/2013
Punctuation marks are a convention of written language that make reading more easily understandable. Brackets and braces are used in seven basic ways in the English language. Also included is a printable reference sheet.
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Braces and Brackets
Like all other punctuation marks, brackets and braces clarify written language by separating additional information from the main clause of a sentence. Brackets and braces perform seven basic functions in written English.
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Brackets for Clarification
1. Use brackets to provide clarification within quotation marks. For example:
According to a recent study on Internet usage, college students are "more likely to use it [the Internet] to find sources than academic journals."
My mom said, "She [my little sister] cannot use the car on Saturday."
And I quote, "You [new students] must attend at least one orientation session."
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Brackets with Parentheses
2. Use brackets to enclose parenthetical information inside of parenthetical information. For example:
The author (Andrew Jones [1922-1978] was also an illustrator) won numerous awards for his writing.
Summaries of all articles (including the article on phrasal verbs [verb-particle constructions]) must be written before the next class.
(Mary Smith [the mother] bestowed a most unusual name on her daughter.)