Grouping symbols frequently used to isolate operations.

  • Parentheses are always used in pairs.
  • In a sequence of operations, we solve the operations in parentheses first. Parentheses help to set a certain order in which to solve the operations.
  • We also use parentheses to group together two elements used to locate a point on a cartesian plane, such as the point A (2, 6).


The symbols for parentheses are “(” and “)”.


Use of parentheses in an operation: 7 + 4(3 + 2) – 2(6 + 5)
Use of parentheses in an operation: x + 3(x + 1) + 5(x + 2) = 22

Historical Note

The first person to use parentheses to isolate mathematical expressions was Christopher Clavius (1537-1612), a Jesuit student of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630). He was the mathematician of Pope Gregory XIII. The French mathematician François Viète (1540-1603) was the first to use them in his book Zeletica, published in 1593.

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