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Square Brackets or Brackets

square brackets

British English
[  ] = square brackets

American English
[  ] = brackets

We typically use square brackets when we want to modify another person's words. Here, we want to make it clear that the modification has been made by us, not by the original writer. For example:

  1. to add clarification:
    • The witness said: "He [the policeman] hit me."
  2. to add information:
    • The two teams in the finals of the first FIFA Football World Cup were both from South America [Uruguay and Argentina].
  3. to add missing words:
    • It is [a] good question.
  4. to add editorial or authorial comment:
    • They will not be present [my emphasis].
  5. to modify a direct quotation:
    • He "love[s] driving." (The original words were "I love driving.")

We also sometimes use square brackets for nesting, for example: