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Thread: Usage of Brackets to enclose additional information

  1. #1
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    Usage of parentheses to enclose additional information

    I would like to know if it would be ok to use Brackets is such a way to add information to a sentence:

    In order to improve your written English (especially important if you plan to work as a writer), you should try the "Oxford English grammar book".

    Now, normally I would say:

    In order to improve your written english, which is especially important if you plan work as a writer, you should try the "Oxford English grammar book".

    However, I was wondering if using brackets it is allowed to avoid to introduce the subordinate clause with "which is".
    Last edited by Azimat; 28th April 2012 at 12:19 AM. Reason: English is always written with the capital "E"

  2. #2
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    Re: Usage of Brackets to enclose additional information

    Perhaps I am not the best person to answer (I have to force myself not to use brackets as often as I want to) but brackets can serve a useful purpose in the way you suggest and, if used sparingly, they are an aid to the reader.


    PS I have to say that in order to improve your English, ... , you should try the book, "Oxford English Grammar". English and titles are capitalised.
    "There are no rules in English, only guidance. Some guidance looks like a rule; it probably isn't."

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    Re: Usage of Brackets to enclose additional information

    Quote Originally Posted by PaulQ View Post
    Perhaps I am not the best person to answer (I have to force myself not to use brackets as often as I want to) but brackets can serve a useful purpose in the way you suggest and, if used sparingly, they are an aid to the reader.


    PS I have to say that in order to improve your English, ... , you should try the book, "Oxford English Grammar". English and titles are capitalised.
    Thank you for your answere. Also, you are right, I constantly forget that the first letter of a language must be capitalized !!!

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    Re: Usage of Brackets to enclose additional information

    Quote Originally Posted by Azimat View Post
    I would like to know if it would be ok to use Brackets is such a way to add information to a sentence:

    In order to improve your written English (especially important if you plan to work as a writer), you should try the "Oxford English grammar book".

    Now, normally I would say:

    In order to improve your written english, which is especially important if you plan work as a writer, you should try the "Oxford English grammar book".

    However, I was wondering if using brackets it is allowed to avoid to introduce the subordinate clause with "which is".
    If you are a user of parentheses, and your audience permits parentheses, then your example sentence would be acceptable - without the red comma.
    In order to improve your written English (especially important if you plan to work as a writer), you should try the "Oxford English grammar book".

    I would write it with a pair of commas, not parentheses.
    In order to improve your written English, especially important if you plan to work as a writer, you should try the "Oxford English grammar book".

    Parentheses serve the same purpose as "bracketing commas". They isolate a part of the sentence that is not essential to the meaning but adds additional information.
    Last edited by panjandrum; 28th April 2012 at 12:16 AM.
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    Re: Usage of Brackets to enclose additional information

    n.b. English is not wrote; it is written.

    AS PaulQ says: brackets are often an aid to the reader. However, when deciding whether to use brackets or commas to enclose a parenthesis to the main sentence, ask yourself this: is anybody ever going to read this sentence out loud? Have another look at your two sample sentences, and try reading them aloud. With the commas, it reads naturally and fluently. Brackets, although they may aid a silent reader, prove very tricky to anybody who is speaking aloud the words that you have written; they oblige the speaker to inject an unnatural hiatus in order to suggest the existence of the bracket. Brackets (which have their uses) interrupt the natural flow of language. When I write English, I always try to imagine it as the spoken word; if you do this, in my opinion, it will enhance the style and rhythm of your written prose.

    p.s. I bought myself a copy of the "Oxford Modern English Grammar" and couldn't understand a word of it.
    Last edited by DocPenfro; 28th April 2012 at 12:21 AM.
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    Re: Usage of Brackets to enclose additional information

    Quote Originally Posted by DocPenfro View Post
    n.b. English is not wrote; it is written.
    Thanks for pointing this out, I fixed it.

    AS PaulQ says: brackets are often an aid to the reader. However, when deciding whether to use brackets or commas to enclose a parenthesis to the main sentence, ask yourself this: is anybody ever going to read this sentence out loud? Have another look at your two sample sentences, and try reading them aloud. With the commas, it reads naturally and fluently. Brackets, although they may aid a silent reader, prove very tricky to anybody who is speaking aloud the words that you have written; they oblige the speaker to inject an unnatural hiatus in order to suggest the existence of the bracket. Brackets (which have their uses) interrupt the natural flow of language. When I write English, I always try to imagine it as the spoken word; if you do this, in my opinion, it will enhance the style and rhythm of your written prose.

    p.s. I bought myself a copy of the "Oxford Modern English Grammar" and couldn't understand a word of it.
    Thanks for adding your opinion

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    Re: Usage of Brackets to enclose additional information

    Quote Originally Posted by panjandrum View Post
    If you are a user of parentheses, and your audience permits parentheses, then your example sentence would be acceptable - without the red comma.
    In order to improve your written English (especially important if you plan to work as a writer), you should try the "Oxford English grammar book".

    I would write it with a pair of commas, not parentheses.
    In order to improve your written English, especially important if you plan to work as a writer, you should try the "Oxford English grammar book".

    Parentheses serve the same purpose as "bracketing commas". They isolate a part of the sentence that is not essential to the meaning but adds additional information.
    This is a very informative explanation, thanks.

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    Re: Usage of Brackets to enclose additional information

    Quote Originally Posted by panjandrum View Post
    Parentheses serve the same purpose as "bracketing commas". They isolate a part of the sentence that is not essential to the meaning but adds additional information.
    The usual guideline is to separate with commas that which is important to the meaning and to separate with parentheses that which provides additional information. For example...

    In order to improve your written English, especially important if you plan to work as a writer, you should try the "Oxford English grammar book".

    In order to improve your written English (the official language of many countries and de facto international language of commerce) you should try the "Oxford English grammar book".
    memento mori

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