Brackets, dashes and hyphens

Explainer Video

Tutor: Jonathan


Brackets, dashes and hyphens

In a nutshell

Brackets, dashes and hyphens are types of punctuation marks used in sentences. In this summary, you will learn how to use each of them.


Brackets can be used to add additional information or an explanation to a sentence to give greater detail, expand an abbreviation or provide a time, date or place. The brackets go around the extra information, but the sentence must make sense without the brackets and extra information.


Without brackets

With brackets

Chapter six will give you more information about the Solar System.
Chapter six (pages 112211-22​) will give you more information about the Solar System.


A pair of dashes can be used instead of a pair of brackets to add extra information to a sentence. A single dash can be used in the middle of a sentence to show a sharp break in the flow of words. It can be used to mark a dramatic pause before saying something surprising or exciting.


Without dashes

With dashes

The new girl Iliana is very nice.
The new girl Iliana - who just joined our class - is very nice.
Cheetahs can run very fast, they are the fastest animal on earth.
Cheetahs can run very fast - they are the fastest animal on earth.

Brackets and dashes

​Brackets and dashes can be used in sentences in a similar way. Brackets are often used in formal writing (such as information books) to suggest a serious tone of voice and provide factual information. Dashes however, are often used in more informal writing to suggest a chatty or snappy way of speaking.


Without punctuation

With brackets

With dashes

My friend Zara won the race.
My friend Zara (who was very fast) won the race.
My friend Zara - who was very fast - won the race.


Hyphens are used between words to avoid confusion in a sentence. They can be used to show which word is an adjective.


Xavier's fun-loving mum threw him the best birthday party ever.

Hyphens may also be used to connect word parts and can be used for words with prefixes by connecting the prefix to the root word.


The TV show was pre-recorded.

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

How do I use hyphens in a sentence?

What is the purpose of a single dash in a sentence?

How do I use brackets in a sentence?


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