Brackets vs. Parentheses

Difference Between Brackets and Parentheses

The use of parentheses and brackets is very common in the English language. They are also often used in mathematics and programming. To make matters more confusing, there are braces which are used in conjunction with the brackets and parentheses. It is therefore important to know the differences between these instruments as they cannot be used interchangeably.


Parentheses are more important than the brackets and braces and are more frequently encountered in the written language. The most important use of parentheses, also known as the round brackets, should include anything you consider to be important, but not part of the sentence (something that you want readers should know). Parentheses are used between a sentence without a period and without the use of capitals. I went to John (who was my classmate). You can see that the brackets were used to provide additional information to the reader but it is not the element of the main sentence. However, sometimes a full sentence is used in parenthesis and in these cases there is capital letter in the beginning of the sentence along with the period in the end. Here’s an example.

I went to see John. (I remember he was a great friend in the school.)

Dashes are also used in almost same manner as parentheses as used, but the dash stresses the preceding sentence, the parenthesis simply provides extra information.


Many people use the brackets instead of parentheses which is not correct. There is a subtle difference in their use and it should to be clear with some examples. Brackets are used instead of parentheses when the information that is provided is essential for bringing out the complete meaning of the sentence. The use of brackets removes all the doubts in the minds of readers. Take this example. The school is two kilometers from the hospital and three [kms of] the college. While you use using a citation and highlight a particular word by using italics, it is preferable to cite that you have used italics at the ending part of the sentence within the brackets.


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