Hello All!

I am a scopist, and a client of mine wants me to use a semicolon on questions ending with "were you?" and "don't you?" et cetera. I was once a reporter, and when I was in court reporting school, we were taught to use a comma there.

I have looked in Lillian Morson and I have found a rule in the Question Mark section on Page 17, but I'm not sure how to convey it to my reporter. It's kind of confusing to me!

Here's an example of how my client wants it: "You weren't at the store the night it was robbed; were you?"

Am I wrong in thinking that should just be a comma there?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Sabrina Schneider
S.O.S. Scoping Services

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You are 100% correct. These are known as echo questions and require a comma and not a semi. They are not joining two independent clauses; rather, they're repeating (echoing) the subject and verb from the main clause.

I like to introduce the topic of echo questions by saying, "You do know what an echo question is, don't you?"

Thank you, Adam!

I read the rule concerning echo questions, but I was still a little muddy on it. I wanted to be able to convey it precisely and concisely to my reporter so she didn't think I just wanted to do it my way; that there was, in fact, some rule to back me up. Thank you, thank you.

I would use a comma. See Morson's Rule 78, example a. In my edition 2d 1997) of Morson it's page 47
Found it, Phil, and thanks. I appreciate it!

Your're welcome. I think I found it by looking up "phrases" as opposed to looking up "commas". I don't fault you for looking it up under "commas", I would've done that too, but I didn't like Morson's answers in relation to your example, so took it a step further and looked under "phrases".


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