A-Tisket, A-Tasket . . . A Brisket, A Bracket

I rather like brisket (sorry, my vegan friends), and I’m keen on brackets, too. They’re practical punctuation marks, writing devices—when used appropriately.

What purpose(s) do they serve?  Basically, they allow you to include important information that’s not necessarily relevant or essential to the main fact or point.  Fitting that information into a sentence, however, isn’t always simple.  That’s where handy-dandy brackets play a part.

Let’s take a gander at four types and the main functions they serve.

Curved or Round Brackets or Parentheses (…)

These are the most commonly used, found in formal and informal documents.

♦  Brunwyn (a former athlete) took on the role of president for the newly formed team.

♦  Most people love technology (Larry can take it or leave it).

♦  Please leave your bag(s) on the table.

Square Brackets […]

Usually, these are used to include additional information from an outside source—someone other than you, the writer. [I like these, and use them with the purpose of adding a character’s comment, an “aside”.]

♦  The robber stated: “She [the officer] didn’t read me my rights.”

♦  The two countries at the summit were from Europe [Germany and Austria].

♦  The protagonist, John Smith, is well-developed [in my opinion].

You can use different brackets (such as square ones [like these] within parentheses).

Curly Brackets or Braces {…}

These are utilized in prose to designate a list of equal choices (can’t say I’ve used these even once).  When used in printing and music, they connect two or more lines, words, or staves of music. They’re also found in physics and math, and programming (C, Java, PHP, and so forth).

♦  Determine where you want to go for your vacation {Paris, London, Madrid, Berlin} and we’ll book the trip.

♦  {2,4,6,8,10}

♦  {x} = [x]

Angle Brackets or Chevrons <…>

These enclose codes and illustrate highlighted information.  They can also indicate an internal thought.  More often, you’ll find them in math and physics, and not in everyday writing.

♦  I held the wine goblet to my nose and inhaled gently.  “It’s quite lovely.”  <If you like mold.>

And, of course, you can use different brackets when providing several facts:

♦  There were dozens (of the sizable [glass {but not etched}]) antique goblets in the shop.

When it comes to writing, like anything, use brackets in moderation.

(Hope [sincerely] this post proved of value.)

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