Re: "Shall" & "Will"

Subject: Re: "Shall" & "Will"
From: Mike Pope <mikep -at- ASYMETRIX -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 3 Jun 1994 09:15:00 PDT

>In normal speech, you're supposed to use "shall" only with the first
>if you use "shall" with the second or third person, you're indicating a
>requirement, a demand, or determination.

Historically, this is an artificial rule. Shall and
will were once different (modal) verbs. As their use
became blurred -- a long, long time ago -- those
Enlightenment grammarians just HAD to come
up with a distinction, so they devised
this "first person=shall" stuff.

>Similarly, if you use "will" with the first person, you're indicating a
>requirement, a demand, or determination.
>Normal usage is "will" with the second or third person.

In the US, "shall" is NOT USED. If you doubt this, try to
find references in any current major US publication illustrating
the use of "shall".

>Television is changing (dare I say "corrupting") American speech, so you'll
>often hear this (and other expressions) misused.

"Misused" because the "rule" on how to use shall was never grounded
in the reality of how people actually speak or spoke. I wouldn't
say "corrupting", by the way; television reflects the way people
actually speak. To say "corrupting" implies strongly that there is
one correct way to speak English. Nope.

-- Mike Pope
mikep -at- asymetrix -dot- com

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