Is ‘in the brackets’ right or wrong?


I was coaching a client for a job interview today and she used the expression ‘in the brackets’ twice.

Here is what she said:

  • I was, in the brackets,  his boss.
  • It was, in the brackets , my first job.

Let’s examine this expression.

First, we need to correct the expression. In the brackets is not the right expression. We say’ in brackets or in parentheses. We use them to add extra detail or information to a written phrase.

  • He [the owner of the shop] is a real jerk.
  • My Dad (a production director in Montreal) is now working in South Carolina.

Now, when we want to say ‘tra virgolette’, then we should say ‘ quote unquote’ in colloquial jargon & we normally use  our fingers to indicate the quotation marks.

  • I was , quote unquote, his boss.
  • It was , quote unquote, my first job.

When do we use this expression?

When we are stating something that may not be 100% real or true for us.

This expression is so wide spread (i.e. used by many people) that I was surprised when I discovered that the original expression was quote…end quote, which actually makes sense. People used it when they were quoting another person and wanted to explain that the comment was coming from another source.

  • He said that it was , quote, the most expensive meal he had ever eaten, end quote.

The purists would tell you that you should not use quote unquote. I am not a purist so I will keep on using it…lol!

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