Difference Between Brackets and Parentheses

Brackets vs Parentheses

The use of brackets and parentheses is very common in English language. They are also frequently used in math and computer programming. To make the situation more confusing, there are also braces that are used in conjunction with brackets and parentheses. It is therefore important to know the differences between these tools as they cannot be used interchangeably as this article will tell.


Parentheses are more important than brackets and braces, and are more often encountered in written language. The most important use of parentheses, also known as round brackets, is to include something that you consider as important but not part of the sentence (something that you wish the readers should know). Parentheses are used in between a sentence without a period and without using capital letters. I went to see John (who used to be my classmate). You can see that parentheses have been used to provide additional information to the reader which is not part of the sentence. However, sometimes an entire sentence is used in parentheses, and in such cases capital letters as well as a period at the end is also made use of. Here is an example.

I went to see John. (I remember what a buddy he was in school.)

Dashes have a similar use like parentheses but whereas dashes emphasize the previous sentence, parentheses, though connected merely provide additional information.


Many people make use of brackets in place of parentheses which is incorrect. There is a subtle difference in the usage which will be clear with some examples. Brackets are used in place of parentheses when the information that is provided is essential to making out proper meaning of the sentence. The use of brackets removes any confusion from the minds of the readers. Take this example. The school is two kilometers from the hospital, and three [kilometers from] the college. When using a quote and emphasizing a word with italics, it is better to mention that you have added italics in the end of the sentence inside brackets.

In brief:

• Parentheses and brackets are used in written language for various purposes

• Parentheses are used to provide additional information which is not required to understanding the sentence and the sentence is complete even without it

• Brackets are used to remove any confusion from the minds of the readers about the meaning of the sentence and if not used will leave the sentence incomplete