I have for many year wondered what is missing when I read sentences like

David Canton, the Education Department spokesman, stated: “(It) shouldn’t have happened. (C)ommon sense should prevail.”

I can understand that (It) might mean mean that the transcriber did not hear the "It" - perhaps the person omitted the word, but "(C)ommon"?

Would that mean that the recording might have some noise drowning the "C" out and the transcriber could not hear it or how do you interpret this?

  • I reckon those should be square brackets.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 23, 2014 at 9:01
  • That is what I normally see too.
    – mplungjan
    Jan 23, 2014 at 9:03
  • Actually the duplicate answer only incidentally answers my question since I asked what do they mean and not how do I use them :) I cannot delete it now anyway due to the answer
    – mplungjan
    Jan 23, 2014 at 9:06
  • Still baffles me when I get a downvote without a comment at this site. It is so rude and non-constructive.
    – mplungjan
    Jan 23, 2014 at 9:48
  • 1
    Wasn't me. And yes, you might want this question instead: english.stackexchange.com/questions/110582/…
    – Andrew Leach
    Jan 23, 2014 at 10:25

1 Answer 1


In this sense "(It)" is used to replace something else that was said, so that the small segment of speech makes sense. So, the original might have read, "This incidence of inadequate teaching resources was avoidable and shouldn't have happened".

"(C)" is used to replace a similar section, and also replaces the original lower case "c" with an upper case "C". The original might have read, "And with the benefit of my many years in the Education Department, I would expect that common sense should prevail".

  • Right. now it makes more sense
    – mplungjan
    Jan 23, 2014 at 9:04
  • 2
    Good suggestions. Of course, there is a moral duty on the quoter not to twist the sense from perhaps "This incidence of inadequate teaching resources was unavoidable and no one claimed that the situation shouldn't have happened. But on the other hand, few would expect that common sense should prevail". Jan 23, 2014 at 9:06
  • 1
    I would have expected ellipsis if things had been left out.
    – mplungjan
    Jan 23, 2014 at 9:08

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