IELTS, TOEFL & TOEIC writing: When should I use brackets/parentheses?

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,030 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited May 2017 in Writing
I recently read a student's IELTS Academic Task 1 answer.  In the answer there were a number of errors in relation to brackets (in the USA, they're called parentheses).  Read the sentence and identify the errors:
Both of them grew with rate of around (-5%) between 2001 and 2006, and increased to around (7%) between 2007 and 2012.

The problem is with the student's use of brackets.  When do we use brackets?  Well, we use brackets when information is added to a sentence which is not vital, but is 'nice' to include.  In other words, if we take the bracketed information out of the sentence, it's still completely understandable and correct.

In the sentence above, if we took the bracketed information away, we'd be in trouble because the sentence wouldn't make sense.  Consider this example:

From 2001 to 2006, both companies grew significantly (from 10% to 25%).

Note that if we took away 'from 10% to 25%' in the above sentence, it would still make sense but the extra, bracketed information provides even more clarity and helps the reader to understand what 'grew significantly' actually means (growth from 10% to 25%).

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