By Mary Morel
Is the word shall dying out of the English language?
I was taught to say I shall, you will, he/she will, but I seldom use shall these days.
I occasionally use it in a question to make offers or ask for advice.
Shall I bring a plate?
What shall we do about the situation?
Why writers avoid shall
These days, many legal writers avoid shall because:
- Not many people understand the traditional distinctions between will and shall
- Shall is sometimes interpreted as may
- Shall may be interpreted as the future tense rather than an obligation
Must is often used in legal writing for obligations and duties.
How to avoid shall
- Use must for obligations or duties.
The client must meet the deadlines.
- Use may to convey discretion or permission.
The client may ask for an extension.
- Use will for the future tense.
The client will submit a report at the end of the project.
- Use the present tense when appropriate.
If the client defaults. (Not If the client shall default.)
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