Can You Read These Shorthand Sentences?


By: Teresa McGlothlin

6 Min Quiz

Image: George Marks / Retrofile RF / Getty Images

About This Quiz

You might think that shorthand is a thing of the past, but there are still many jobs out there that require the skill. From court reporters to executive secretaries, the ability to accurately dictate conversations, meetings, or court proceedings is still in high demand. In this quiz, we want to see how well you can read shorthand and how much you know about brachygraphy and tachygraphy. 

Although court reporters use stenotype machines to record proceedings, they must also learn how to write in shorthand as part of their training. One of the most important aspects of either stenography or shorthand is learning to hear words phonetically. Another important part of the job is speed and accuracy. By removing letters and hearing sounds, practitioners are able to dictate up to 200 words per minute! 

Whether it's been a while since you've put your pencil to paper or you regularly practice chording with a machine, we think this quiz will put you to the test. We will cover everything from Gregg to Pitman -- from closed captioning to the kinds of punctuation used in dictation. You'll have to dig deep to pass this exam. Let's see how much you remember from secretary school! 

When writing in shorthand, what should be done to the first letter of adjectives?

According to the 10 rules of shorthand capitalization, the first letter of an adjective should always be capitalized. Capitalizing the first letter of an adjective differentiates the word from the rest of the text.


How many keys are there on a court reporter's stenography machine?

Standard QWERTY keyboards have up to 107 keys, but a court recording machine only has 22. With fewer keys and the ability to spell words phonetically, a court reporter can create a live transcript with an accuracy rate of 98%!


What is the term for pressing multiple keys at once on a recording machine?

Much like the way an organist or pianist presses keys to make chords, stenographers practice chording when they type. Because there are only 22 keys on a stenotype machine, different combinations of keys are assigned to certain phonetic combinations, making it faster than traditional shorthand.


What do the letters KAOEPWAORD spell out?

Using the combination of chording and the individual letters on a stenotype machine to spell the word "keyboard" is a little tricky. Instead of focusing on the actual letters, focus on the sound and you'll see how it works.


What does the following sentence say? THR K B OEPB L TPPL.

If you are a stenographer, you might be the only one you know. This sentence reads, "There can be only one." When using the stenotype machine, a period is indicated by the letters TPPL.


HOULDZ U HF - Can you read this shorthand question?

If you needed the advice of another stenographer about how to write something, you might ask, "How would you?" Although the letters appear to form one word, the magic of stenography is shortening things.


The letter series SPROUT indicates a place. Which place is it spelling out?

Many stenographers are court reporters, and those who have been around for a while might work in the superior court system. Since the 1800s, the basic job function of court reporters has not changed all that much.


WHEPB HRU HF -- what does this sentence ask?

WHEPB HR U HF means the same thing as asking, "When will you?" Letter combinations, or chords, are used to make punctuation marks. In this case, HF is the chord that represents the question mark.


Which letter would indicate the word "with" on a stenotype machine?

For the most part, words are spelled phonetically when using a stenotype machine; but some words require only a letter to denote them. The word "with" is a good example of this practice. The letter "W" is simply used in the word's place.


Do you know what the following shorthand sentence is conveying? KWRAG TPPL

The letter combination KWRAG says, " I can't go." You know the period ends in a sentence because it ends with the chording combination of TPPL. With the exception of asterisks and the occasional period, punctuation is rarely used in stenotype.


Are numbers used in shorthand?

Even numbers are different in shorthand. The use of numerals depends on the context. In some instances, such as dates and longer numbers, the actual numbers are used.


Court reporting machines only have four vowels. Which vowel is missing?

With only 22 keys on a stenotype machine, court reporters are able to write in a form of shorthand at an incredible speed of 200 words per minute. A standard court reporting machine has four vowels: A, O, U, and E. The other 18 keys are consonants.


Do you know what TKPWAEUD means?

TKPWAEUD is a polite greeting. When you meet someone you might say, "Good day." It might look a little odd, but the combination of keys includes every part of the phrase.


Do you know what the following sentence says? WR WR WAOE HF

When you see a stenography translation ending with HF, you can automatically determine that a question is being asked. Our question asks, "Where were you?" Where were you when you learned about the art of shorthand?


The letters HURPBS indicate a job benefit -- what do they say?

Many stenographer positions are freelance, but others come with benefits such as health insurance. No matter what path you choose, being a stenographer can be a lucrative job.


Which sort of dictation device makes the text you see when using closed captioning?

With the invention of the stenotype machine, written shorthand began to fall by the wayside. Now, the machine also is fading from use. In fact, many courts and closed captioning clients have now switched to USB versions of the machine that make recording and transporting information even easier.


TH-EU-A-PB-F-P-H-PB-ST-E-PB. What does this sentence say?

If you can read the sentence we gave you, well done! The sentence reads, "This is an example of machine steno." It is an example of the way a stenotype machine combines letters and sounds to form a more efficient way of typing.


Which body part does A*BD reference?

If you were to see A*BD in a crime report, you would know that something might have happened to someone's abdomen. The asterisk is one of the very few punctuation marks used in stenography.


Do you know the official name of a court reporter's machine?

In order to become a court reporter or a stenographer, you must undergo intensive training that includes learning both written shorthand and the use of the stenography machine. Dating back all the way to the 1800s, the stenotype machine has taken much of the hard work out of dictation.


If you didn't know for sure, you might ask WEU WPBU S THA HF. What are you asking?

If you were confused about something, you might ask, "Which one is that?" When using a stenotype machine, every effort is taken to shorten a sentence. While there might appear to be more letters here, keystrokes are minimized by pressing more than one letter at once.


Do you know the technical term for swift writing?

The overall art of stenography and shorthand is encompassed by the term tachygraphy. Tachygraphy means swift writing.


When considering the 10 rules of shorthand capitalization, which sentence is correct?

Even when writing in shorthand, the first letter of a sentence is always capitalized. In this case, the sentence "It's important to brush two times per day" is the correct way to write this sentence.


Which word or words do the letters EU-S form?

By chording the letters E and U and then adding the S on a court recording machine, the word "is" is formed. In shorthand and stenography, the combination of letter sounds are used to form words.


Can you figure out what brachygraphy means?

Two technical terms are often used in conjunction with shorthand: tachygraphy and brachygraphy. Tachygraphy means swift writing, and brachygraphy means short writing. Shorthand is both swifter and shorter than traditional handwriting or typing.


Which punctuation mark is used to indicate a paragraph in Gregg's version of shorthand?

Instead of wasting time by skipping a line when writing in shorthand, paragraphs are denoted by a symbol. In this version of shorthand, there are only six basic punctuation marks used.


Shorthand relies on the sounds of words. See if you can translate this sentence: "Lndn brej s flng dn."

One of the ways that shorthand can record things so quickly is through the use of phonetics. The sentence you see here says, "London Bridge is falling down." Learning to focus on the sounds of words and not the spelling is a huge part of increasing shorthand speed.


Which word is represented with the shorthand letters K-A-K?

Shorthand is proof that you can have your cake and eat it, too. Not only can you record over 100 words per minute after a lot of practice, but you can also record a conversation with more accuracy than traditional writing or typing.


Do you know the word formed by this series of letters? P-A-EU-P-E-R

A stenographer would record the word paper as P-A-EU-P-E-R. The EU portion of the series is one of the ways stenographers combine vowel sounds. Other popular combinations are OU, AU, and OO.


Which of the following occupations might regularly use shorthand?

Many people think that modern technology has diminished the need for shorthand and stenography. However, there are many professions that still make good use of the practice. Knowing shorthand is still a very important part of an executive secretary's day-to-day job.


Both shorthand and stenography are based on phonetics. What does phonetics mean?

Much of the speed of writing in shorthand or using a stenotype machine is obtained by removing any unnecessary letters. Focusing on the sounds of speech rather than the actual word allows practitioners to move faster.


What is the first thing you must learn to become a court reporter?

The first step to becoming a court reporter is learning shorthand. Although court reporters use stenotype machines, they must first have basic knowledge of written shorthand. Knowing shorthand helps the court recorder to hear in a more phonetic manner.


Do you know which letter represents the word "can" in stenography?

Because the practice of stenography relies on the sounds of words, or phonetics, rather than the actual spelling, words are sometimes denoted by one letter. Here, the word "can" is simply represented in a sentence by the letter K.


Are you able to read PRIFRL in shorthand?

Learning to utilize a stenotype machine requires a lot of effort to view language differently. Some might say that users are taking a peripheral view of words. If you sound out the letters here, you will see that they make up the word "peripheral."


On your computer keyboard, can you pick the symbol used to indicate a hyphen in shorthand?

The PItman version of shorthand utilizes the equal sign to indicate a hyphen. Sir Isaac PItman was granted knighthood in 1894 for his commitment to language innovation.


Which letter is used to express "are," "our," and "hour" in stenotype?

To cut down on the time it takes to dictate individual words, the letter R is used to express the words "are," "our," and "hour." The letter utilizes the sound of the words, and when seen in a shorthand sentence, it would make complete sense to the reader.


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