Need help with a pattern

What does " at beginning of row, bind off 4sts twice, 4sts twice, and then 4sts twice" nean?

I am trying to end the back of a sweater and shape the neck and shoulders.

I’m a new knitter.

Essentially the directions are to bind off 4sts at the beginning of the next 6 rows. You’ll be shaping the shoulders on each side at the same time. So bind of 4sts, work to the end of the row, turn, bind off 4sts and work to the end of the row. Repeat this 2 more times.

there are bracket symbols in the instructions. What do they mean.

the full instructions are:
At beg of row, bind off (bracket symbol- not on my keyboard) 4 twice, Bracket symbol 4 twice and then bracket symbol 4 twice -20sts.
Bins off rem sts.

The bracket symbols are these [] should be above your enter key. If you shift, you get curly brackets {}. So does your pattern actually read - At beg of row, bind off [4 twice] 4 twice and then [4 twice -20sts. - only that’s not right, they go in pairs and you only wrote three of them.

Sometimes they’re to show different sizes, though. So would it be - “at beg of row, bind off 4 [4, 4] twice - 20sts”? That means for all sizes BO 4 sts at the beg of the next 2 rows. Then go to the next instruction.

Brackets are there for a reason, perhaps to separate st patterns or sizes so that the directions avoid confusion. Can you show the placement of brackets with parentheses? They can certainly make a difference.

This is how the pattern reads exactly:
Shape neck and shoulders
At beg of row, bind off[3(4,4,4,5)sts] twice,[4(4,4,5,5)sts] twice, and then [4(4,4,5,5)sts]twice-18(18,20,20,20) sts.
Bind off rem sts.

I have 42 stitches on my needle at this time.

Any help is greatly appreciated. This is my first sweater in a long time.

First circle or highlight the numbers for your pattern, it sounds like all yours are 4s. So just BO 4 sts at the beginning of the next 6 rows and you’re supposed to end up with 18 or 20 sts. Since 42-24=18 sts that’s what you’ll have after binding off the sts.

When you BO, count the sts you lift over the other one, not the sts you knit; you have to k2 to BO 1 st.

You made it sound simple. Thanks so much. I’ll return here for advice if I have a problem with the rest of the pattern.
Phyllis