Using Brackets in Sentences
Brackets can be used in several ways in sentences. However, you as a writer need to be extremely careful when using brackets, and you need to be careful not to overuse them. Let’s take a look at some examples of when it is okay to use brackets.
Remember that you need to use brackets sparingly. This quotation says, “I am very excited.” If you as a writer were going to include this quotation in a sentence, you would need to amend this quotation slightly to make it more understandable on the reader’s part. We could say, “I am very excited [to be here].” Notice I put the words “to be here” in brackets. That’s because that’s not something the speaker said.
That’s something I added into the sentence. That’s why it’s in brackets. It’s to show the reader that it’s not something the speaker actually said. However, all the words in brackets are still inside the quotation marks, because I wasn’t saying something contrary to what the speaker said. I’m saying something the speaker probably would have said but didn’t. I’m just further clarifying what the speaker said.
You can also put words in brackets when you need to change the pronoun form, or the verb form, of a sentence to help it make sense. Say I’m talking about the past tense. I could say, “I [was] very excited,” and put that in quotation marks. I put “was” in a bracket, because I changed the verb form. Brackets just let the reader know that that’s something that the writer amended in that sentence.
Another time you can use brackets is if you need to include some extra information inside parentheses. Say you’re going along in a sentence, these are just words, then you need to add something, and you put it in parentheses. Then you need to add something else inside the parentheses. You could put some words, so there’s words inside the parentheses. You want to further clarify, so you put some words in brackets and then close it off with parentheses. Brackets are just used inside parentheses. However, use this sparingly.
It’s okay to use parentheses around things, but you need to put brackets inside parentheses extremely sparingly. There are not very many instances in which you need to use both parentheses and brackets. Again, use brackets sparingly, because lots of brackets make it difficult on the reader’s part. However, there are some instances when it’s appropriate, like the ones I wrote up here on the board.