In algebra problems, parentheses, brackets, and braces are all used for grouping. Terms inside the grouping symbols have to be operated upon before they can be acted upon by anything outside the grouping symbol.

All the grouping types have equal weight; none is more powerful or acts differently from the others. If the problem contains grouped items, do what’s inside a grouping symbol first, and then follow the order of operations. The grouping symbols are ✓ Parentheses ( ): Parentheses are the most commonly used symbols for grouping. ✓

Brackets [ ] and braces { }: Brackets and braces are also used frequently for grouping and have the same effect as parentheses. Using the different types of symbols helps when there’s more than one grouping in a problem. It’s easier to tell where a group starts and ends.

## Radical :

This is an operation used for finding roots. ✓ Fraction line (called the vinculum): The fraction line also acts as a grouping symbol; everything above the line in the numerator is grouped together, and everything below the line in the denominator is grouped together. ✓ Absolute value : This is an operation used to find the unsigned value of a number.