A client of mine wants me to use a semicolon on questions ending with "were you?" and "don't you?" et cetera. 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. Can anyone make the rule more understandable 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 for your help in advance!

Sabrina Schneider
S.O.S. Scoping Services

Views: 52

Replies to This Discussion

To be honest, I think it's just personal preference. There's a lot of times that I know the client wants it the wrong way but I just do it because remember, it's their name on it, not ours. That's the one thing I like about it. I just try to please them and do it their way.
Yes, I agree. Unfortunately, we have to do it the way the reporter wants.

I hate putting a semicolon in the situation you described. The rule I follow is the stand-alone rule, whether the phrase at the end makes sense on its own as a question, and "were you" does not stand alone. But "is that correct" or "is that right" can stand alone, and so I put a semicolon before those.

I've only had one reporter who insisted on the semicolon before everything, and it makes the transcript awkward to read -- and definitely will slow down the scopist!

Betty Kelly, Scopist
Refer your reporter to Morson Rule 78.

I see that treatment occasionally, mostly from reporters trained in California.

I also see things like "I was there for three-and-a-half hours."

These nonstandard treatments may be a reporter's preference; however, when you know it is incorrect, I think you have a responsibility to point it out. Citing Morson is helpful. Most reporters have great respect for this resource.

It's our product as well. It reflects poorly on us when incorrect punctuation is used.

If a reporter is adamant, you've done your job by pointing it out.

joyce davis


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