shall & will

Subject: shall & will
From: David Oberstadt <daveo -at- VNET -dot- IBM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 3 Jun 1994 09:08:41 PDT

My MW Dictionary of English Usage has about two full
pages on this. Evidently, no true rule exits--only the
traditional and conventional use of these words
are compared. Here are some choice extracts:

Present-day American usage (by Warriner, 1986)
The old distinction between these words is no longer
observed by most people. Shall, which was once considered
the only correct form for the expression of the simple
future in the first person, has been replaced by will in
the speech and writing of most people....

Traditional (England English) usage (by Chambers, 1985)
In its simplest form, the rule governing the use of
shall and will is as follows: to express a simple
future tense, use shall with I or we, will with you,
he, they, etc.; to express permission, obligation,
determiniation, compulsion, etc., use will with I
and we, shall elsewhere.

Note that 'etc.' in'you, he, they, etc.' must stand for 'she and it'.

Will apparently prevailed as early as Chaucer. They go on to
suggest the use of shall in the U.S. may be due to its
association with legal language and our disdain for it. They
also point out that the traditional usage of will and shall
is loaded with exceptions.

David Oberstadt Santa Teresa Lab
daveo -at- vnet -dot- ibm -dot- com San Jose, California

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