When Do You Use a Bracket and a Parenthesis in Math?

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Brackets and parenthesis are similar, but different, when it comes to their specific function within a math problem. Learn when to use brackets and when to use parenthesis with help from a mathematics educator in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Math Problems
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Jimmy Chang and we're here to discuss, when do you use a bracket and parenthesis in math? Now, the brackets and the parenthesis are often organizational tools when it comes to algebra. Because even though we know and are familiar with the parenthesis, if we use parenthesis and only parenthesis throughout the entire problem, it can lead to potential confusion when it comes to organization of symbols. So, for a variety of purposes, they introduce brackets to kind of distinguish between the different symbols that you have, and the terms, as you go forward in any math problem. So, for example, if you have an expression, X plus five and it's part of an overall bigger problem, you can put it in parenthesis. But if you know you want to make the expression a little bit larger for simplification purposes, then what you want to think about is incorporating a bracket. So, for example, if you have something like five plus X plus five and you can put a brackets around it to let the reader know that, ok, I have two sets of symbols I've got to work with. The inside symbols are X plus five, and the outside symbols are, and the brackets. And then you could put like, for example, a four on the outside. And what the reader will know then, if they see a problem that involves brackets and parenthesis, is the parenthesis will be the interior terms that they've got to take care of first, for the order of operations. And then after they're done, then they can work with the brackets. So, when to use brackets and parenthesis is when you have more complex expressions that really need additional organization, and that's where the brackets and parenthesis come into play. So, I'm Jimmy Chang and that provides a brief glimpse as to when to use brackets and parenthesis in math.


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