Grammar question.

Why do some sentences have “[brackets]” in them? For instance, I just copied this from a site:

“TAPS has opened up the eyes of people to not be so locked about this type of ghost hunting stuff,” Silva said. “It used to be you couldn’t talk about [it].”

It’s when a word has either been added, or substituted, to preserve the meaning, but indicating to the reader that an alteration has been made to the original.

E.g. the original quote may have said “It used to be you couldn’t talk about ghost hunting stuff,” and either for stylistic (didn’t want to repeat the previous phrase) reasons, or reasons of word count, “it” was used instead by the writer.

I see. So basically the “[it]” was added to shorten up the sentence and the brackets were added to let me know that. Cool. I never knew what that meant. Thanks.

Not necessarily to shorten, but to clarify. Sometimes, the brackets are used to insert something longer, but something that would help the reader. For instance, an athlete, in speaking about last week’s game, may answer a reporter’s question with, “Yeah, that was an easier one.” In the copy of the article, the sentence may be printed as, “Yeah, [last week’s game] was an easier one.”

Just to throw in one more thing, if you see


it means “exactly as copied,” suggesting that there was an error in the original reference but it was reproduced faithfully (usually not used for oral quotes but for reference to a text).

You can even see this on the SDMB, when a moderator changes or adds to a thread’s original title (like this one or this one, for example).