What do people call the symbol '()' in English? A dictionary of my mother language mentions bracket or parenthesis, but I don't know which one is more commonly used among people in English native countries.


"Parentheses are mainly used to separate off information that isn’t essential to the meaning of the rest of the sentence. If you removed the material within the parentheses, the sentence would still make perfectly good sense."

Compare with:

"Brackets (also called square brackets) are mainly used to enclose words added by someone other than the original writer or speaker, typically in order to clarify the situation." - Source 1

A second explanation:

"Usually we use square brackets - [ ] - for special purposes such as in technical manuals. Round brackets - ( ) - are used in a similar way to commas when we want to add further explanation, an afterthought, or comment that is to do with our main line of thought but distinct from it. Many grammarians feel that the parentheses can, in fact, be replaced by commas in nearly all cases." - Source 2

In addition, I personally hear the term 'brackets' more for informal settings, and 'parentheses' for formal settings. This is probably just because 'brackets' is a lot easier to say :P

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Normally they are simply termed brackets or parentheses - the latter probably being the preferred term if you're American since they tend to have a separate notion of these to other kinds of brackets. {} are termed "braces" or "curly brackets" in some less formal circles. [ ] are usually called "square brackets".

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