I am wondering how you would punctuate the following example.  I have seen it punctuated in several ways and I really don't know what is the correct punctuation.  I have looked it up in a variety of references, and there is no solid answer that I can find.  

When a witness or attorney trails off but is really asking a question.

Example:  You said it was ...?   or     You said it was --      or  You said it was?

Thanks for any help you can give me!

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I choose the "--" for trailing off.  I think a lot of people use the ellipses.  I think you have to pick a way and be consistent.  I went to a seminar where the speaker said the "--" was the most correct way.  I use "..." for when something is missing in a quotation.

Thanks, Janiece.  I have seen it this way most commonly, but I wanted to throw it out there and see what most people do.

I would do "You said it was...."

That is, however, if they did trail off.  It is definitely wrong to do "You said it was....?"  I would never do that example or "You said it was?"  because that's not a complete sentence.  I use "You said it was --" if he changes his train of thought and says something like, "You said it was -- well, let's just look at the document."  or some other change of thought.

Hi Kelli,

Thanks.  They are asking a question, but not completing the sentence.  Kind of lifting the voice at the end.  Example:  And that would be --   

Thanks for your input.  Very tricky/sticky situation.  I've seen it so many different ways both in reporting and in books/articles, etc.  Seems that there is not consistent or "right" way to do this, so I was wanting to get a feel of how most people would handle this.

I don't use the dash unless the speaker is cut off by someone else, like the witness answering, or they change their train of thought in mid sentence.   I use the ellipses when the speaker trails off. 

Thanks!  I'm hoping that more people chime in on this, as I am very curious as to what is the most "popular" way to handle this type of thing.

There is also a group on this website, actually more than one, to help with these types of questions.  You may want to pose your question there, as well. One of the groups is called Comma, Conundrums and Other Punctuation Perplexities.


Thanks!  I will do that.


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