Brackets in Math – Definition with Examples

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    Welcome to Brighterly’s fun-filled world of mathematics, where we unravel the mysteries of numbers and equations to make learning a joyous journey. Today, we’re exploring a fascinating aspect of math – brackets. These seemingly simple symbols – parentheses (), curly brackets {}, and square brackets [] – are silent powerhouses, steering the course of calculations and leading us to accurate results.

    Brackets are like the traffic signals of math. They guide us on when to stop and solve a particular part of a complex problem, ensuring a smooth ride through the maze of numbers and operations. Without them, we could get lost in the labyrinth of mathematical expressions, leading to confusion and incorrect solutions. Brackets, in their different forms, serve as our pathfinders, directing us on the right path to follow in the order of operations.

    At Brighterly, we believe that understanding the function and importance of brackets is an essential step in your child’s mathematical journey. With our engaging and easy-to-understand approach, we’ll ensure that your child not only learns the concepts but also enjoys the process. So, let’s embark on this exciting voyage of discovery together!

    What are Brackets?

    Understanding brackets in math is crucial for any young mathematician. You’ve likely seen these mysterious symbols in your math assignments, and you might be wondering what they mean. Brackets are symbols used in mathematical expressions to denote the order of operations. They tell us which part of a mathematical equation or expression should be solved first. You can think of them as mathematical road signs, guiding us through complex numerical landscapes.

    What Are the Different Types of Brackets?

    In mathematics, there are three main types of brackets: parentheses (), curly brackets {}, and square brackets []. Each type has its unique use and place in mathematical expressions. They are used to group numbers and operations to clarify the sequence in which the operations should be performed. Using brackets can significantly alter the result of a mathematical expression, so understanding their function is crucial.

    What Are Parentheses Brackets?

    Parentheses are the most commonly used type of brackets in mathematics. They are denoted by the symbols (). When parentheses are used in a math problem, it means that the operation inside the parentheses should be performed first. If there are multiple operations inside the parentheses, you should follow the regular order of operations (BIDMAS/BODMAS) within them. 

    How to Use Parentheses in Math?

    Parentheses are used in math to group certain parts of an equation together. This grouping tells us to do the operations inside the parentheses first, before moving on to the rest of the equation. It’s like telling us, “Hey, pay attention to this part first!” For example, in the equation 5 * (3 + 2), we add 3 + 2 together before multiplying by 5, because the parentheses tell us to do so.

    What Are Curly Brackets?

    Curly brackets, also known as braces, are denoted by {}. They are used to denote a set or a list of numbers or objects. For example, {1, 2, 3, 4, 5} represents a set of the first five natural numbers. Curly brackets are also used to indicate that operations inside them should be performed first, though they are used less frequently than parentheses for this purpose. 

    What Are Square Brackets?

    Square brackets are the third type of brackets, denoted by []. They are used in math to denote closed intervals in set theory and calculus. For example, [0, 1] represents all numbers from 0 to 1, inclusive. Square brackets can also indicate the order of operations, like parentheses and curly brackets.

    What Is the Order of Operations for Brackets?

    The order of operations for brackets, often remembered by the acronym BIDMAS/BODMAS or PEMDAS, instructs us to solve bracketed operations first. The order is Brackets (or Parentheses), Indices (or Exponents), Division and Multiplication (from left to right), Addition and Subtraction (from left to right). Within brackets, this order is maintained. For example, in (3 + 2 * 4), we do 2 * 4 first, then add 3 because of the BIDMAS/BODMAS rule.

    Square Brackets

    Square brackets are used to denote a closed interval in mathematics. For example, [3, 5] means all the numbers between 3 and 5, including 3 and 5. They’re also used in mathematical functions and sequences. When used in the context of the order of operations, they work similarly to parentheses. 

    Curly Brackets

    Curly brackets or braces {} are primarily used in mathematics to denote a set of numbers or objects. For example, {2, 4, 6, 8} represents a set of even numbers. In the context of the order of operations, they function similarly to parentheses and square brackets. 

    Solved Examples on Brackets

    1. (3 + 2) * 4 = 20, not 14, because we perform the operation in the parentheses first.
    2. {1, 2, 3} ∩ {2, 3, 4} = {2, 3}, because the intersection of two sets is the set of elements common to both sets.
    3. 5 * [2 + (3 * 2)] = 5 * [2 + 6] = 5 * 8 = 40, because we follow the BIDMAS/BODMAS order of operations.

    Practice Problems on Brackets

    1. (5 + 3) * 2 = ?
    2. 7 – [3 + (2 * 2)] = ?
    3. {1, 2, 3} ∪ {2, 3, 4} = ?


    In the grand scheme of mathematics, brackets play a role akin to the unsung heroes. They may seem like minor additions to an equation, but their impact on the outcome is immense. They bring clarity to operations, add structure to intricate equations, and define sets and intervals. They are the invisible forces that direct the flow of calculations, ensuring we reach the correct result.

    Mastering the use of brackets in math is like acquiring a superpower – it opens up a new realm of problem-solving skills. It is the foundation on which many advanced mathematical concepts are built. The understanding of brackets and their correct usage equips learners with the ability to dissect complex problems and solve them step by step.

    At Brighterly, we strive to illuminate the path of learning for our young scholars. We understand that every concept, no matter how small, serves as a stepping stone towards mathematical proficiency. That’s why we take pride in simplifying complex concepts, like brackets, and making learning an enjoyable experience.

    Remember, every mathematical journey begins with a single step. Understanding brackets might be one of the first steps, but it’s a significant stride towards a brighter mathematical future. So keep learning, stay curious, and remember, the world of Brighterly is always here to guide you on your journey.

    Frequently Asked Questions on Brackets

    What do brackets mean in math?

    Brackets in math are used to denote the order of operations. They serve as clear indicators dictating which part of a complex equation or expression needs to be calculated first. By encapsulating certain parts of an equation, they effectively create a microcosm within the larger mathematical universe of the equation, which must be solved before any further calculations can be made. This mechanism is crucial in avoiding ambiguity and ensuring that mathematical equations are universally understood and can be calculated in the same way, no matter who is performing the calculations.

    What is the difference between parentheses, curly brackets, and square brackets?

    Parentheses (), curly brackets {}, and square brackets [] each have unique uses in mathematics. Parentheses are the most common type of brackets used to signify priority in the order of operations. When you see a part of an equation within parentheses, it should be your first stop in the calculation journey. On the other hand, curly brackets are often used to denote a set of numbers or objects. They encapsulate elements that belong together due to shared properties or conditions. Square brackets, meanwhile, are typically used to signify closed intervals on a number line. This means they include all the numbers between and including the specified endpoints. Understanding the nuances of these different brackets helps us to navigate and interpret complex mathematical information accurately.

    What is the order of operations for brackets?

    The order of operations is a set of rules in mathematics that dictates the sequence in which operations should be performed to ensure consistent and correct results. It is often remembered by the acronym BIDMAS/BODMAS or PEMDAS. This stands for: Brackets (or Parentheses) first, then Indices (or Exponents), followed by Division and Multiplication (from left to right), and finally Addition and Subtraction (from left to right). This rule ensures that everyone interprets and solves mathematical equations in the same way. Even within brackets, this order of operations is maintained. It’s like a roadmap guiding us through the terrain of mathematical operations, ensuring we arrive at the correct destination: the right answer.

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