Subject: Shall/will
From: Julie Barker <julie -at- HARSTON -dot- CV -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 6 Oct 1994 10:42:43 BST

Use of shall/will for plain, uncoloured, neutral future

In southern British English, "shall" *used to be* the normal auxilliary
to express plain future, while "will" conveyed an implication of
intension, volition, permission, obligation, or choice.

This was not the case in Celtic English (Scottish English, Irish
English), where they were both treated as colourless. The classic
example used to illustrate this was the drowning Scot misunderstood by
English onlookers and left to his fate because he cried, "I will drown
and nobody shall save me".

American practice followed Celtic, and now SBrE had followed American,
and they are interchangeable in terms of neutrality of volition etc.

However, in terms of person:

"shall" for future is usually used only for 1st person
"will" can be used for all persons

Shall in non-first person is still normal in legal or quasi-legal
language to stipulate regulations or legal requirements:

"The Underwriters shall in no case be bound to accept notice
of any transfer of interest."

Otherwise the use of "shall" with the 2nd and 3rd person is

Hope you find this useful - you certainly don't want to come over
as old-fashioned in your sales proposals, so I'd follow your intuitions
& Style Guide and go for "will"!

My references are:

A University Grammar of English. Quirk & Greenbaum. Longman 1973
(this is a short version of the BIG "A Grammar of Contemporary English",
by Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, & Svartvik)

Fowler's Modern English Usage, 2nd Ed., H.W.Fowler, OUP 1983

The Complete Plain Words, 3rd Ed., E. Gowers, Penguin 1986

Julie Barker * Project Tech Writer * julie -at- harston -dot- cv -dot- com
Computervision Ltd, Harston Mill, Harston, Cambridge CB2 5NH, UK

>> Eat healthy, stay fit, die anyway <<

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