Using brackets

Home learning focus

Learn how to use brackets.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos

  • three activities


Watch this video to remind you about brackets, dashes and commas.

Commas, brackets and dashes

Learn why brackets are used and how to use them by watching this video.

How to use brackets


Brackets, dashes and commas show parentheses (plural of parenthesis).

Parenthesis is a word or clause inserted into a text to show an afterthought or as extra information.

A pair of brackets, commas or dashes can be used to enclose the extra information or afterthought. You can choose which to use depending on how you want the information to be read.


  • Brackets: ‘The otter (who was very cute) swam down the river.’ Brackets are used here as the parenthesis isn’t vital to the sentence.

  • Commas: ‘The otter, who was swimming in the river, caught a fish.’ Commas are used here as the parenthesis is important to the sentence.

  • Dashes: ‘The otter - who wasn’t very clever – stood on some rocks.’ Dashes are used here as the parenthesis is informal.


You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Can you highlight the words (that can be considered extra information) that should be in brackets?

Activity 2

Watch this clip of Chocolate Cake by Michael Rosen.

'Chocolate Cake' by Michael Rosen

Can you write five sentences or a short story to describe Michael’s (or your own) chocolate cake adventure that use brackets to add extra information or afterthoughts?

Example: Michael (who was an inquisitive ten-year-old boy) LOVED chocolate cake. Interestingly, his favourite type of chocolate cake was chocolate fudge cake (with white chocolate drops on top too).

Top tips!

  • To check you have put your brackets in the correct place, your sentence should still make sense even when you take the words that are in the brackets out of the sentence!

  • Remember, brackets show parentheses. We can also use dashes (- -) or commas (, ,) to add parenthesis instead of brackets.

Activity 3

You can either print out this activity sheet or write your answers on a piece of paper.

Try this fun activity to explore using brackets, commas and dashes to add extra information (parenthesis) to your sentences.

Brackets, dashes and commas worksheet

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt about using brackets.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you to understand more about brackets and commas:

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