Help! Writing tenses in minutes of meetings...?

(12 Posts)
wigeon Wed 03-Feb-16 10:08:42

I am getting in a real pickle about tenses in meeting minutes.

I get that they're in the past tense. So:

"Fred said that the report had been published"

But what about something that is still true? So should it be:

"Fred said that the Chief Executive was concerned about the project"

or "Fred said that the Chief Exec is concerned about the project"

where the first sentence suggests that the Chief Exec used to be concerned but isn't now - how do you convey that the Chief Exec is STILL concerned about the project? Which of the two is correct, or is there another way?

prism Wed 03-Feb-16 10:43:56

I don't think there's any need to get worried about the tense, as you're not likely to be able to imply all that you want just with the use of tense in one verb. But you could say something like "The Chief Exec is worried about the project, as Fred said [on the Xth/at the meeting/earlier]".

MrsHathaway Wed 03-Feb-16 11:15:44

Your sequence of tenses is fine.

You can always reframe as "Fred reported the Chief Exec's concern about the project" if you want to imply that it continues.

However, minutes are a reflection of what was true at the time and one always reads them with reference to the date of the meeting. It's always possible that a major report/bid/catastrophe happens the day afterwards and renders half the decisions and action points moot.

HolaWeenie Wed 03-Feb-16 11:46:55

What mrshathaway said ☝🏻

Wigeon Wed 03-Feb-16 12:08:13

Prism - Fred was at the meeting being minuted, saying that the Chief Exec was then, and still is at the time of the minutes being written, concerned about the project.

Mrs Hathaway and Hola - are you saying that it's ok to put the present tense then? Or that by putting in the minutes "the Chief Exec was concerned about the project", you aren't necessarily implying that he's not still concerned?

In the minutes in question (which I'm not even bloody writing - I'm supposedly clearing them!), there are other things which are definitely still continuing, as well as being true at the time of the meeting, and are likely to continue for some time. So also:

"Fred said that Davina is now currently attending the weekly performance meetings."

where Davina had started, and will continue, attending the performance meetings, but the implication is that she might stop at some point, but not now. So "Fred said that Davina was attending the weekly performance meetings" seems wrong, but the pedant in me still says that I can't use present tense ("Davina is attending") in minutes reporting a past meeting...?

LauraVonSlim Wed 03-Feb-16 12:21:57

I would say 'Fred says that the Chief Executive has concerns about the project' and '...davina currently attends' so present but avoiding is. I know what you mean, I avoid is where at all possible.

MrsHathaway Wed 03-Feb-16 13:00:14

No no no.

You must use the past tense in minutes because you are reporting what happened in the past. It is understood in English that when you write Fred said Davina was attending that means the same as Fred said: "Davina is attending". That's pure syntax.

It is not up to the minute taker to speculate on what might be happening or have happened since the meeting. Minutes ate a permanent record of a past event.

Imagine a photograph: you wouldn't smudge out someone's face if they'd since died, because that photograph is a faithful representation of what happened at the moment the shutter clicked.

MrsHathaway Wed 03-Feb-16 13:00:57

*Minutes are

Fuck sake, phone.

HolaWeenie Wed 03-Feb-16 13:17:50

What mrshathaway said ☝🏻️grin

Wigeon Wed 03-Feb-16 13:37:17

Ok ok ok I think I get it grin! I think I just have to remember that whilst some things may be true both at the writing of the minutes, and at the time of the meeting, in a year's time, the thing may not exist, but the minutes may still be referred to, so they need to be past tense.

I am actually pretty hot on spelling / grammatical/ punctuation pedantry in general; I just have a complete blank spot with tenses in minutes! Also, the spelling of loose / lose. Just can't seem to remember that one. Can't cut bread straight either. Gah!

But anything else, pedant-related, I'm your gal.

SwedishEdith Wed 03-Feb-16 14:02:11

No-one reads the minutes anyway they just scan them for the action points with their name attached.

HolaWeenie Wed 03-Feb-16 17:21:43

wigeon, loose and lose are easily muddled, made me think of this...

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