English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

My idea of using of various brackets is unclear; can anybody clarify as to where exactly I use () and []? Furtermore, are {} used in regular grammar?

share|improve this question
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Parentheses are used to indicate, well, parenthetical thoughts.

We discussed the value (or lack thereof) of homeopathic medicine.

Square brackets are used to indicate alterations, omissions, or supplementary material in quotations.

I believe it was Thomas Paine who said "These [the years leading up to the American Revolution] are times that try men's souls."

I cannot think of a use for curly braces in ordinary writing.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.