Jim Barker on Whether or Not to Quote

Jim Barker, September of 2014, was asked this question:

“Do you quote when you can’t see the quoted material and you don’t know if they really read it verbatim?”

Jim’s response: “Absolutely. And why is that? Because, when a reporter quotes a speaker who is reading from a document, the reporter is not quoting the words in the ‘document’; the reporter is quoting the ‘speaker’s’ words.

“I further submit that reporters have no responsibility whatsoever to verify the accuracy of quotations offered by a speaker in a legal proceeding, whether those quotations are from a document or are reflective of someone’s spoken words. If the quotation is inaccurate, it is the speaker who is doing the misquoting, and the reporter’s quotation marks are merely indicating that ‘This is what the speaker said.’ In other words, for purposes of the record, a misquote is still a quotation. The responsibility for challenging and/or correcting misquotes lies with the attorneys who are creating the record, not the reporter who is memorializing the words of the parties.”

The one-year anniversary of Jim’s death is next week. How fortunate we are to have his wisdom live on. I miss you, English-loving buddy.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

More on Quotes

…Did he say things like “I’m not going to keep it ” or “I want to sell it ” or “I want to lease it out”? Or what did he tell you?

No comma after “like” because it is a preposition and the sentences are the objects of the preposition.

No commas after the sentences as they are objects of the preposition and not independent clauses as such.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

More on Quotes

…He said, “I have never seen him in my life.”
…She said, “You may not access those files.”

…He said something like “I have never seen him in my life.”
…She said something to the effect of “You may not access those files.”

When the quote follows words that are not lead-in words, there is no comma before the quote.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

Quotes

Periods and commas go inside quotes without exception; colons and semicolons go outside quotes without exception.

Question marks go inside or outside quotes depending on where the question is being asked: If there is a question inside the quotes, the question mark goes inside; if there is no question inside the quotes but there is one outside, the question mark goes outside.

…He said, “What do you think you are doing?”
…Did he say, “What do you think you are doing?”

…Did he say, “I am not sharing this with you”?

Happy punctuating!

Margie

Punctuation to Get Out of Quotes

When there is punctuation to get into quotes, there must be punctuation to get out. In other words, if there is a comma before the quote, there has to be some mark of punctuation at the end of the quote.

…He said to her, “I am not interested in your excuses,” after she was late for the fourth time in four days.
…I replied, “I will not allow you to do this to me,” and went straight to the supervisor.

…He asked, “Hotw much longer will I be here?” and began to cry.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

The Dash — Inside or Outside Quotes?

There is no rule that the dash must be inside or outside the quotes. Either way works.

…He was always saying, “You have to be here on — ” he was always preaching to us about everything.

In this scenario, the reasoning is that the dash is inside because it is the quote that is being interrupted.

…He was always saying, “You have to be here on” — he was always preaching to us about everything.

In this scenario, the reasoning is that the dash needs to be outside because it is not part of what the guy is saying.

Either way is okay. Just be consistent.

Happy punctuating!

Margie

A Comma Before the Quote

I am BACK!!
I hope your holidays were glorious. Mine were lovely even though I was really down and out sick with a throat “thing.” I think that, after almost three weeks, I am finally getting better. Can you say “froggy”?
The question of whether to put a comma before quotes when quoting from a document came up on Facebook. This is fairly “long” for our general purposes; however, I feel that we have to make this explanation.
 
When a conversation has taken place and that conversation is being relayed — called “discourse” — quote are appropriate if the words being used are those that would be used when talking directly to someone. This is where I would use the expression “when the person is acting as if these were the words he would use face to face.”
 
[I am not sure how the court reporting field got hung up on “proving” that this is what he really said. If that were the criterion, there would never be quotes.]
 
These words are separated from the “lead-in words” — “he said,” “I responded,” “she replied” — from the quoted material with punctuation, usually a comma.
 
…He said, “What do you think you are doing?”
…She said, “I am throwing this out.”
…He said, “You are what?”
…She said, “Throwing this out.”
 
This is the rule you all know and probably learned in school.
 
But when a document is being read into the record, there is no “discourse.” This is not a conversation that has taken place that is being relayed..
 
So the rule that comes into play here is the rule about “words used as words.” When words are being highlighted or emphasized or defined, they are quoted.
 
…What do you mean by “in the vicinity?”
…When you say “confidently,” exactly how was he acting?
 
These words do not take a comma before the quotes unless it is appropriate for the sentence in general, that is, unless the grammar calls for it. Rarely do these types of quotes need commas in front of them.
 
…The document says “It was just after midnight that she was admitted.”
…It states “…on the left.”
 
This is where quoting from a document falls. The words from the document are being “highlighted” and need to be quoted. But there is no comma in front of them to separate them from “it says” or “it states.” It is not discourse. It is not a conversation that is being relayed. It is just words that are being highlighted.
 
Happy punctuating!
Margie