I am doing my homework about Pasive Voice and I don´t get why there is a square bracket. Surely, it is not so complicated, but I am a beginning student. Please, help me, I would thank you a lot!

"The other great thing about Miami is [it's] got a lot of culture there, specifically, Latin culture".

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    One possible reason for placing it's in square brackets is if the writer is quoting something someone else wrote, where the original version had some other text at that point (but the second writer just substituted something syntactically equivalent, for some reason). For example, perhaps the original sentence was The other great thing about Miami is this glamorous and cosmopolitan city has got a lot of culture there, specifically, Latin culture. Or maybe the original had you've, which might explain the rather unusual inclusion of the word there. Sep 28, 2016 at 16:44
  • This sentence is a part of an interview and I heard it and the man said : "The other great thing about Miami it's got a lot of culture there, specifically, Latin culture". He did not say other things.
    – MADY
    Sep 28, 2016 at 18:02
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    I don't know what "view script" means, but if you're saying the video has an associated subtitle most likely it means the person doing the transcription couldn't be certain exactly what the speaker said at that point (though in that case I think the standard convention would be to include a question mark at the end of the bracketed text). Sep 28, 2016 at 18:07
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    Yes. It's a somewhat hasty/clumsy attempt by the subtitler to "fix" the bad grammar. But note that it's there is short for it has, not it is. Also, you haven't supplied a link to the source so I can't be certain about this, but chances are most native speakers wouldn't have noticed anything amiss (it's only conversation, not a finely-crafted literary text). And finally, per my comments to Andrew's answer (and the reason I say it's a clumsy attempt), it's doesn't actually work very well there anyway. The subtitler should have just left well alone, in my opinion. Sep 28, 2016 at 19:25
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    Of course, it's quite possible what the guy actually said was The other great thing about Miami's "iss" got [blah blah] (that's my amateur attempt to transcribe it's when the /t/ isn't enunciated, which is perfectly normal for many speakers in such contexts). Without being able to listen to the source material, I'm just taking potshots in the dark here. Sep 28, 2016 at 19:50

2 Answers 2


Square brackets are used to mark changes by an editor.

In this case the man in the video, speaking quickly, said something like "The other great thing about Miami is got a lot of culture".

The editor who wrote the transcript noted that there is a mistake here and corrected it by inserting the word "it's" = "it has". Because this is an editor's correction and not something the man actually said, the editor put it in square brackets.


I expect that the square bracket indicates a place in the sentence/phrase where you can substitute in other words. For example:

"It's a beautiful day to take [Mary] to the park."

"I'm not usually partial to [sweets] but I like [these].

In your example, the word "it's" can be substituted for "the city has" or some longer phrase.

By the way, square brackets usually only appear in written English in the context of a lesson or a technical discussion (or a transcription), or occasionally in a novel or poetry as a literary device. They aren't used as punctuation in common written English.

Edit: Based on the additional detail in the comments, the "[it's]" is something the transcriber added to make a spoken comment into more grammatically correct English.

  • Personally, I don't think it's actually works well at all (because of the word there). Much more appropriate would be, say, they've (i.e. - the inhabitants of Miami). Sep 28, 2016 at 16:49
  • @FumbleFingers I edited my comment after I had second thoughts. You're right, I don't like "it's" either, although it is grammatically acceptable in this context.
    – Andrew
    Sep 28, 2016 at 16:50
  • I'm not exactly convinced it's grammatically acceptable in the context of that there. But my downvote was actually because I don't think there's any real likelihood that the purpose of the square brackets in OP's example is to indicate that someone else could substitute different text at that point. Most likely it indicates that the writer has already made a substitution. Sep 28, 2016 at 16:54
  • I'm more uncomfortable with the following "got", because "it has got" feels redundant. "There" also feels redundant. A better sentence would be simply, "The other great thing about Miami is [it has] a lot of culture, specifically ..."
    – Andrew
    Sep 28, 2016 at 17:01
  • I just searched Google Books for I have a cold he (the word he is just to restrict us to contexts like ...he said / explained / etc. and screen out contexts like I have a cold beer in the fridge). I wasn't surprised to find only 10 instances, compared to 534 for I've got a cold [he]. It may well be that technically speaking got is "redundant", but I don't really see why you'd be "uncomfortable" with such a commonplace usage (in BrE as well as AmE, I'm sure). Sep 28, 2016 at 17:39

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