Re: Use of "shall"

Subject: Re: Use of "shall"
From: "Jacobson, Avi (PBD)" <Avi -dot- Jacobson -at- PBDIR -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 2 Feb 1998 11:54:10 -0800

In article <3 -dot- 0 -dot- 32 -dot- 19980130172700 -dot- 006ad5c0 -at- mail -dot- celerity -dot- com>,
Dianna Massey <dmassey -at- celerity -dot- com> wrote:
> Matthew Bin wrote:
> >
> > Er, is shall archaic? I think it depends where you are. And I find
> > that it adds a certain amount of tone to others' writing that is not
> > easily achieved in the written medium. (I make no claim about my
> > writing, of course.) I'm not going to crusade to bring it into more
> > common usage, but it's worth knowing and using in my opinion.
> In a recent past life, I documented policies and procedures. The
> appropriate use of "shall" not only gave the policies the proper tone,
> also pleased the company's lawyers. If you are involved in
contractual or
> legal writing of any kind, the difference in meaning between "shall"
> "will" is important. Outside the legal profession, I find people
> negatively to the use of "shall." They tend to find it stuffy and
> handed.

Grady, J.O. (1993). _System Requirements Analysis_, New York: McGraw
Hill Inc. (cited on, a
System Requirements Discovery resource page from the University of
Arizona), says the following:

"A mandatory requirement should be expressed using the word _shall_
(e.g., The system shall conform to all state laws.). A preference
requirement can be expressed using _should_ or _may_ (e.g., The total
cost for the car's accessories should be about 10% of the total cost of
the car.). The term will can be used to express a declaration of purpose
on the part of a contracting agency, to express simple future tense and
for statement of fact (e.g., The resistors will be supplied by an
outside manufacturer.)"

This seems to be an industry standard in the world of software
requirements analysis. I have recently delved into (read: "begun to
scratch the thick surface of") the world of OOSE (Object-Oriented
Software Engineering) and found that the use of _shall_ and _will_ is
very specialized and the differentiation between them is critical. I
won't elaborate, because I am not sure I understand all of the
ramifications yet. What is abundantly clear is that "shall" is not
merely an "antiquated" usage: it expresses a mandatory system
requirement, as opposed to a mere indication of something which is
expected to happen in the future.

Avi Jacobson, email: Avi -dot- Jacobson -at- pbdir -dot- com | When an idea is
or: AviJ -at- amdocs -dot- com | wanting, a word
| can always be found
Opinions are those of the poster, =NOT= of | to take its place.
Amdocs, Inc. or Pacific Bell Directory. | -- Goethe

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