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Thread: shall

  1. #1
    sash2008 is offline Senior Member
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    Default shall

    the past tense of shall

  2. #2
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: shall

    Quote Originally Posted by sash2008 View Post
    the past tense of shall
    My opinion: should

    PS: I know there may be yelling and screaming - I want to learn it !!

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    Default Re: shall

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    My opinion: should

    PS: I know there may be yelling and screaming - I want to learn it !!

    I dont' consider it a logical or practical notion to take "should" as the past of "shall". In American English, the use of "shall" is rather limited. In a number of ways, "would" functions as the past of "will", but I wouldn't say the same thing about "should" and "shall".




  4. #4
    dragn is offline Member
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    Default Re: shall

    I agree with what PROESL wrote. In terms of actual meaning, the modal shall effectively has no past tense form because it has a meaning that is fundamentally tied to the future. And if it does, it sure as heck isn't should, which has little to do with shall in terms of meaning.

    Would fills the bill rather nicely as a past tense version of shall in some situations. For example:

    John: "I shall love you always, Mary."
    Mary: "John said he would love me always."


    Greg

    P.S. No yelling and screaming...yet.
    Last edited by dragn; 02-Sep-2009 at 19:53.

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    Default Re: shall

    Quote Originally Posted by dragn View Post
    I agree with what PROESL wrote. In terms of actual meaning, the modal shall effectively has no past tense form because it has a meaning that is fundamentally tied to the future. And if it does, it sure as heck isn't should, which has little to do with shall in terms of meaning.

    Would fills the bill rather nicely as a past tense version of shall in some situations. For example:

    John: "I shall love you always, Mary."
    Mary: "John said he would love me always."

    Greg

    P.S. No yelling and screaming...yet.
    We could add that we often use "should" with a future time reference.

    I should call her again tomorrow.

    She should call me back by next Tuesday.

  6. #6
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: shall

    I completely agree with you two PROESL and dragn. And I understand quite well your explanations - mainly regarding modern AmE usage. But something inner myself keeps telling me there is much more to be digged here.
    I am talking about the ancient sources of the structure of the language - the classical old English.

    Dragn: Let us invert the situation. In the example you gave, if you first presented Mary's sentence:
    Mary: "John said he would love me always."
    would one ever think maybe John had such a special care of using shall ?

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    Default Re: shall

    This should help shed some light on the topic. In my opinion, the "traditional rules" for "shall" were fabricated by prescriptivist grammarians bent on telling people how to use English rather than observing how people actually use English. I've read this usage note before, and quite honestly, it's just given me a headache.

    One thing that is certain about "shall" is that it is more formal. In US English one can observe "shall" in legal documents and very formal business language. Other places "shall" seems to appear is in fixed or semi-fixed phrases such as "Shall we leave?" "Shall we dance?"

    I doubt the "traditional rules" for "shall and will" were ever traditional at all in the first place, except for among those willing to prescribe to an imposed sense of language propriety.



    shall: Definition from Answers.com


    USAGE NOTE The traditional rules for using shall and will prescribe a highly complicated pattern of use in which the meanings of the forms change according to the person of the subject. In the first person, shall is used to indicate simple futurity: I shall (not will) have to buy another ticket. In the second and third persons, the same sense of futurity is expressed by will: The comet will (not shall) return in 87 years. You will (not shall) probably encounter some heavy seas when you round the point. The use of will in the first person and of shall in the second and third may express determination, promise, obligation, or permission, depending on the context. Thus I will leave tomorrow indicates that the speaker is determined to leave; You and she shall leave tomorrow is likely to be interpreted as a command. The sentence You shall have your money expresses a promise (“I will see that you get your money”), whereas You will have your money makes a simple prediction. • Such, at least, are the traditional rules. The English and some traditionalists about usage are probably the only people who follow these rules, and then not with perfect consistency. In America, people who try to adhere to them run the risk of sounding pretentious or haughty. Americans normally use will to express most of the senses reserved for shall in English usage. Americans use shall chiefly in first person invitations and questions that request an opinion or agreement, such as Shall we go? and in certain fixed expressions, such as We shall overcome. In formal style, Americans use shall to express an explicit obligation, as in Applicants shall provide a proof of residence, though this sense is also expressed by must or should. In speech the distinction that the English signal by the choice of shall or will may be rendered by stressing the auxiliary, as in I will leave tomorrow (“I intend to leave”); by choosing another auxiliary, such as must or have to; or by using an adverb such as certainly. • In addition to its sense of obligation, shall also can convey high moral seriousness that derives in part from its extensive use in the King James Bible, as in “Righteousness shall go before him and shall set us in the way of his steps” (Ps 85:13) and “He that shall humble himself shall be exalted” (Mt 23:12). The prophetic overtones that shall bears with it have no doubt led to its use in some of the loftiest rhetoric in English. This may be why Lincoln chose to use it instead of will in the Gettysburg Address:“government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” See Usage Notes at should.

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    dragn is offline Member
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    Default Re: shall

    Dragn: Let us invert the situation. In the example you gave, if you first presented Mary's sentence:
    Mary: "John said he would love me always."
    would one ever think maybe John had such a special care of using shall ?
    Good question. In reality, probably not. I would tend to assume he just said "Mary, I will love you always." I wouldn't assume he used shall (unless I knew that John had a penchant for talking like a 19th century poet).

    I recommend reading through the usage note posted by PROESL carefully. It is a bit tedious, but it's good stuff. It certainly tops anything I can add.

    Greg

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    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: shall

    Ok, I think I will change my opinion from the radical:
    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by sash2008 View Post
    the past tense of shall
    My opinion: should
    To the milder
    "My opinion: It should be should - it is a pity it isn't."


    But regarding the Original Poster's question. Is there a quick and right answer?
    Or does not the question make any sense at all?
    If a student asks me "What is the past tense of shall?" I still do not know what to answer him.

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    Default Re: shall

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    Ok, I think I will change my opinion from the radical:

    To the milder
    "My opinion: It should be should - it is a pity it isn't."


    But regarding the Original Poster's question. Is there a quick and right answer?
    Or does not the question make any sense at all?
    If a student asks me "What is the past tense of shall?" I still do not know what to answer him.
    Here's my answer to the student that asks me about the past of "shall".

    Although "should" is listed in the dictionary as being the past of "shall", this does not reflect common usage.

    Let's look at an example.

    Tom: I shall leave at 5:00 PM.
    Tom said he should leave at 5:00 PM.

    Using "shall" is very uncommon in ordinary and everyday language. Tom is far more likely to say "I should leave at 5:00 PM".

    Now, we can say that "will" is to "would" as "shall" is to "should". It's logical. However, "shall" is used so infrequently that this is not practical.

    Tom: I'll leave at 5:00 PM.
    Tom said he would leave at 5:00 PM.

    As the past of "will" in reported speech, "would" is the correct and logical choice.

    We cannot say the same relationship exists between "shall" and "should" because people are far more likely to simply say "I should leave at 5:00 PM." Common and everyday usage simply doesn't make it practical to think of "shall and should" in the same way we think of "will and would".

    All in all, getting too caught up in this question of "the past of shall" is not practical. This is so despite the fact that "should" is listed as the past of "shall" in the dictionary.

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