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Robert's Rules of Order/Article II

6. Principal or Main motionsEdit

A Principal or Main Question or Motion, is a motion made to bring before the assembly, for its consideration, any particular subject. No Principal Motion can be made when any other question is before the assembly. It takes precedence of nothing, and yields to all Privileged, Incidental and Subsidiary Questions [§7][§8][§9].

7. Subsidiary or Secondary motionsEdit

Subsidiary or Secondary Questions or Motions relate to a Principal Motion, and enable the assembly to dispose of it in the most appropriate manner. These motions take precedence of the Principal Question, and must be decided before the Principal Question can be acted upon. They yield to Privileged and Incidental Questions [§8][§9], and are as follows (being arranged in their order of precedence among themselves):

  • Lie on the Table [§19]
  • The Previous Question [§20]
  • Postpone to a Certain Day [§21]}
  • Commit [§22]
  • Amend [§23]
  • Postpone Indefinitely [§24]

Any of these motions (except Amend) can be made when one of a lower order is pending, but none can supersede one of a higher order. They cannot be applied[1] to one another except in the following cases: (a) the Previous Question applies to the motion to Postpone, without affecting the principal motion, and can, if specified, be applied to a pending amendment [§20]; (b) the motions to Postpone to a certain day, and to Commit, can be amended; and (c) a motion to Amend the minutes can be laid on the table without carrying the minutes with it {[§20].

8. Incidental motionsEdit

Incidental Questions are such as arise out of other questions, and, consequently, take precedence of, and are to be decided before, the questions which give rise to them. They yield to Privileged Questions [§9], and cannot be amended. Excepting an Appeal, they are undebatable; an Appeal is debatable or not, according to circumstances, as shown in Sec. 14 [§14]. They are as follows:

  • Appeal (or Questions of Order) [§14]
  • Objection to the Consideration of a Question [§15]
  • The Reading of Papers [§16]
  • Leave to Withdraw a Motion [§17]
  • Suspension of the Rules [§18]

9. Privileged motionsEdit

Privileged Questions are such as, on account of their importance, take precedence over all other questions whatever, and on account of this very privilege they are undebatable [§35], excepting when relating to the rights of the assembly or its members, as otherwise they could be made use of so as to seriously interrupt business. They are as follows (being arranged in their order of precedence among themselves):

  • To Fix the Time to which the Assembly shall Adjourn [§10]
  • Adjourn [§11]
  • Questions relating to the Rights and Privileges of the Assembly or any of its Members [§12]
  • Call for the Orders of the Day [§13]


  1. See Plan of Work and Definitions, in Introduction, for explanation of some of these technical terms.