I am writing the minutes of a meeting. I wrote 'minutes opened at 13:19' and someone corrected me to 'minutes were opened at..'

Then I wrote 'Elections held by secret ballot. Results revealed after the Chairman finished counting,' to, once again, be corrected to 'Elections were held' and 'Results were revealed.'

I hold the opinion that the verb 'to be' is of little importance in the context, especially when writing minutes. I came here for expert opinion. Please refer me to an answered question if there is one. I have failed to find the answer to my question through search.

Thank you.

  • 2
    Minutes means the official record of the proceedings of a meeting. I would not recommend using grammatically incorrect sentences.
    – user140086
    Oct 16, 2015 at 18:27
  • 3
    Telegraphic transcription of minutes and notes is common practice. If anyone objects to the grammar, allow them to take the minutes instead. No one will object. Oct 16, 2015 at 18:34
  • @JohnLawler It depends on which company you are talking about. The minutes can be very important records for very important decisions. They must be submitted to the court if subpoenaed. Also some companies submit them to the Registry if there is any change in management and they are legally required under the law. I would NEVER call it "common practice".
    – user140086
    Oct 16, 2015 at 18:44
  • 1
    While @JohnLawler makes a good point, so does Rathony. I suggest you find out from someone in charge whether what is needed/expected is either a telegraphic transcription or an official and legal transcription of the proceedings (such as a court reporter provides). After you find out which option is preferred, be sure to inform your critic of your findings. If they were correct, suck it up! If they were incorrect, you can either tell 'em sharply, "I knew you were wrong!" or, more diplomatically, "I had a feeling my way was perfectly OK. However, If you'd like the job, it's all yours!" Oct 16, 2015 at 18:57
  • You could argue that if the accuracy of minutes is that important, they should only include what was recorded at the time, rather than a later rewrite. If the notes made by the minute taker were in any form of shorthand, those are the definitive record of the meeting ('draft' approvals notwithstanding).
    – JHCL
    Oct 16, 2015 at 22:58

1 Answer 1


The question is what style of writing you're doing. In formal English, you can't just omit the verb. In telegraphese, it's expected. I take notes in telegraphese and with shorthand ("w/" for "with," and lots of abbreviations), but wouldn't do this in a formal context.

So I'd say you and whoever was looking over your minutes are disagreeing on what style to use.

And you'd need to add "were" if leaving it out led to ambiguity, which I think it did in the "minutes opened" example. Judgment call.

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