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Thread: shall


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    #41

    Re: shall

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    Okay, fine. I'll also stick around for a while longer to continue to counteract your spread of information. Stay tuned.

    And I'll point out to you that we're not talking about "modal meaning". We're talking about (modal) auxillary verbs, and specifically whether they have a past tense function.
    But I am not surprised that you may want to change the subject.
    That idea comes pretty late in the game, 2006. That's precisely what got prescriptivists in so much trouble in the first place; their inability to look to language for meaning.

    I point out that your thinking that something is a past tense is disproved by modal meaning and you want to then limit the discussion to exclude that.

    Thanks but no thanks.

    Why would you want to counteract anyone's "spread of information"? I thought that was what this site was for. If everyone takes that approach, we'll have a major schmozzle, wouldn't you think?

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    #42

    Re: shall

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    I also didn't defend my position by "saying I know more than all the dictionary people who collectively decided ..."

    These are all ideas borne of your imagination.
    Not at all. Although you didn't use those words, what you said carries that meaning.
    But you are not only out of step with the dictionaries. You are out of step with the many many native speakers who use auxillary verbs in the past tense.
    There are also many websites that teach English, and they teach that some modals carry past tense function.
    I admit that some of those websites may be of lesser quality, but certainly not all of them are.
    And possibly more important, reputable ESL schools teach that some models are past tense forms, at least as part of their role.
    In order to defend my position, I've shown, from language, a number of things that simply do not lend support to the notion that modal verbs have tense. I saw nothing convincing.

    Albeit old:It finds no support in language use. Modal verbs can act in every time situation because their job isn't to carry tense; their job is do what modals do, carry a speaker's/writer's emotive feelings into a sentence. You're trying to drastically restrict the role of those verbs, and you're just not in touch with reality.

    2006 new:I believe you are in denial here.

    Modals are not always emotive. They are also auxillary verbs.
    When I was young, I could run a mile without stopping. (not '...I can run a mile....')

    Albeit newest responses:That they are, modal auxiliary verbs.

    That's at least partially emotive, 2006. It might be bragging, it might be fact, but it still represents that person's opinion. Heck, you can say that opinion is half of what every person says in their whole life.
    In your atempt to deny the reality of past tense function, you're practically claiming that modality is the whole purpose of auxillary verbs. Modality is only one of the features of auxillary verbs.

    'can', of course not; as I've already noted it's because it doesn't work semantically.
    What absolute rubbish nonsense! "can" doesn't work because you need the past tense "could"!
    You can not say 'When I was young I can run a mile...'.
    It has nothing to do with semantics. Do you realize how foolish you sound?


    Neither does would or should or might, all purported past tense. Nor do will, shall ormay work. Why, because only 'could' holds the normal neutral meaning of ability in the past.
    So you just admitted that "could" has a past tense function. And it has nothing to do with meaning; it has to do with tense.

    That doesn't stop 'can' from performing one of its jobs, a strong denial of someone suggesting they had a past ability that they didn't. ??

    A: When I was young, I could run a mile without stopping.

    B: He's a liar. He had polio as a youth. He can't have done that!
    Most people would say 'He couldn't have done that.' (past tense of "can")



    2006 replies:I tried to keep this very short in the hope that this thread will soon wind down. It has become cumbersome to follow because of its length, and I think you will agree that we both have already spent too much time here.

    We don't seem to be convincing each other, but are presumably continuing because others are following it.


    [If this in fact will be my last post, I can later say 'That would happily be my last post.' (past tense "would")] (= That happily was my last post.)

    Albeit newest responses:That isn't an example of past tense 'would'. '
    Firstly, my word order can be improved to 'Happily, that would be my last post.' (= 'Happily that was my last post.')

    That would happily be my last post." does NOT equal "That was my last post". No one would come out with "That would happily be my last post" as a mormal neutral way to describe a past event, to say, "That was my last post". Says who? It seems perfectly normal to me.

    What that is is an example of 'would' operating in a past time situation, which is much different, both semantically and syntactically than 'would' as a past tense. Oh? How is it different? It's not. Anyway you have practically admitted that "would" has a past tense function.
    And I mentioned before that keeping the same syntax as regular verbs have is not important. Why should it be important? And there is no semantic difference, at all!

    'could' & 'would' have some special tasks in English that they alone perform. In order for you to remark, "'That would happily be my last post", you'd be making use of a special condition of 'would'. What special condition? Does it have a name?

    That doesn't automatically make them past tense. Automatic or not, they are. It's only natural that HISTORICAL past tense forms would keep these jobs but again, it's semantic, not syntactic. No problem.

    'should' hasn't kept any of these "special" uses, These so-called "special uses" are a big part of the function of "could' and "would".yet I believe you contend it too is a past tense.
    Yes, it can be. It's not as commonly seen as with "could' and 'would", but that is largely because "shall" isn't used a fraction as much as "can" and "will" are. So naturally there is much less chance for "should" to function in the past tense role.
    I was a bit slow on one thing, which is picking up on your perhaps unintended admission that these modal verbs do have past tense function. I certainly didn't pick up on that when I initially read your post. In fact I didn't pick up on it till I was well into responding. Otherwise I might not have been as hard on you. I apologize. (I'm too tired to revise it now.)

    addendum
    I just notice your most recent post. You talk about "prescriptivists". It's not about that at all. People do use and teach the past tense function of modal verbs every day. It's actually descriptive.
    Last edited by 2006; 06-Sep-2009 at 06:44.


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    #43

    Re: shall

    Originally Posted by albeit
    I also didn't defend my position by "saying I know more than all the dictionary people who collectively decided ..."

    These are all ideas borne of your imagination.


    2006 replied:Not at all. Although you didn't use those words, what you said carries that meaning.

    But you are not only out of step with the dictionaries. You are out of step with the many many native speakers who use auxillary verbs in the past tense.
    There are native speakers on the planet that use auxiliary verbs in the past tense but there are none who use modal verbs that way. They can't because, modals are tenseless.

    Let's look at some examples of your past tense, 2006.

    Present ------------------- Past
    I shall go to Rome. --- I should go to Rome.??

    I will go to Rome. --- I would go to Rome. ??

    I may go to Rome. --- I might go to Rome. ??

    I can go to Rome. --- I could go to Rome. ??


    None of them work, do they? Why not if, as you contend, modals have tense?


    There are also many websites that teach English, and they teach that some modals carry past tense function.

    I admit that some of those websites may be of lesser quality, but certainly not all of them are.

    And possibly more important, reputable ESL schools teach that some models are past tense forms, at least as part of their role.
    I'm sure that some of these places still teach a lot of things that aren't part of English. As I mentioned, the OED taught that split infinitives are wrong till 1998.

    You really have to be more careful, you have to actually look to the fact situation and it's clear, the facts do not support that modals have tense.

    =====================

    Albeit: In order to defend my position, I've shown, from language, a number of things that simply do not lend support to the notion that modal verbs have tense.

    I saw nothing convincing.
    You presented nothing convincing. If modals had tense, the examples would be leaping forth from your brain, your post would be plastered with examples.
    You presented a couple of tired old canards.

    Albeit old:It finds no support in language use. Modal verbs can act in every time situation because their job isn't to carry tense; their job is do what modals do, carry a speaker's/writer's emotive feelings into a sentence.

    You're trying to drastically restrict the role of those verbs, and you're just not in touch with reality.
    You keep on with this latest bit that came out of thin air late in the discussion. The reality that you can't seem to grasp is that you can't produce any real examples.



    Heck, you can say that opinion is half of what every person says in their whole life.
    That's probably a fairly accurate statement, as we know that modals and various other forms of hedge language are exceedingly commonplace.

    In your attempt to deny the reality of past tense function, you're practically claiming that modality is the whole purpose of auxillary verbs. Modality is only one of the features of auxillary verbs.
    Language clearly illustrates that modals are tenseless. We keep coming back to it; you can't create examples of what you claim exists.

    'can', of course not; as I've already noted it's because it doesn't work semantically.

    What absolute rubbish nonsense! "can" doesn't work because you need the past tense "could"!
    You can not say 'When I was young I can run a mile...'.
    It has nothing to do with semantics. Do you realize how foolish you sound?
    Nothing to do with semantics, eh?

    A: Where is the money?

    B: Bill could have it.

    B: Bill might have it.

    B: *Bill can have it. *

    Why do you suppose 'can', a purported present tense can't be used here in a present time situation, but 'could' and 'might', both purported past tenses can be?

    Not a question of semantics, eh, 2006?


    Neither does would or should or might, all purported past tense. Nor do will, shall ormay work. Why, because only 'could' holds the normal neutral meaning of ability in the past.
    So you just admitted that "could" has a past tense function. And it has nothing to do with meaning; it has to do with tense.

    That doesn't stop 'can' from performing one of its jobs, a strong denial of someone suggesting they had a past ability that they didn't. ??

    A: When I was young, I could run a mile without stopping.

    B: He's a liar. He had polio as a youth. He can't have done that!

    Most people would say 'He couldn't have done that.' (past tense of "can")
    Of course most people would use 'could'. 'could' is the normal neutral. When we want to express something stronger than the normal neutral, English gives us a number of options. 'can', as you've just admitted, is one of them.





    2006 replies:I tried to keep this very short in the hope that this thread will soon wind down. It has become cumbersome to follow because of its length, and I think you will agree that we both have already spent too much time here.

    We don't seem to be convincing each other, but are presumably continuing because others are following it.


    [If this in fact will be my last post, I can later say 'That would happily be my last post.' (past tense "would")] (= That happily was my last post.)

    Albeit newest responses:That isn't an example of past tense 'would'. '
    Firstly, my word order can be improved to 'Happily, that would be my last post.' (= 'Happily that was my last post.')

    That would happily be my last post." does NOT equal "That was my last post". No one would come out with "That would happily be my last post" as a normal neutral way to describe a past event, to say, "That was my last post".

    Says who? It seems perfectly normal to me.
    I didn't say it wasn't part of language. I said,

    That would happily be my last post." does NOT equal "That was my last post",

    something you've conveniently avoided.

    What that is is an example of 'would' operating in a past time situation, which is much different, both semantically and syntactically than 'would' as a past tense.

    Oh? How is it different? It's not. Anyway you have practically admitted that "would" has a past tense function.
    I don't know how many times I've mentioned that ALL modal verbs can function in the past, the present and the future. It's a mystery to me how you can have missed it.

    I've also shown that ALL the modal verbs can operate in all time situations. That's how it's different.

    If you can't grasp the difference, well, that's life.
    Last edited by albeit; 06-Sep-2009 at 08:17.

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    #44

    Re: shall

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    I've read this usage note before, and quite honestly, it's just given me a headache.
    I haven't had enough time to read through all those references yet. But I can say that rereading all the posts in this thread is beginning to give me a headache!

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    Doesn't anyone find it odd that dictionaries often state that X is the past tense of Y but they never give any example sentences?
    It is not that easy to write a dictionary - we must appreciate their effort. Besides there are dictionaries and dictionaries.

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    While this may be hard to grasp for many people, dictionaries and grammar manuals have always contained quite a large number of mistaken information about language.
    Some people give all their lifetime to write such dictionaries and manuals, that is not an easy task.


    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    "I shall have been married for ten years next month", but it's a very archaic usage and not likely to be encountered outside literature.
    I keep hearing it all the time, but people say it so quickly - "I'll have been married for ten years next month". (I am kidding, but that is a point:
    the contracted form I'll is the same for 'I will' and 'I shall', right? I guess only in the negative it changes - won't or shan't.)
    Last edited by Abstract Idea; 06-Sep-2009 at 12:20.

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    #45

    Re: shall

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    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.
    Maybe you're talking about the conditional of shall, which is also spelt "should." Couldn't the past and conditional have the same spelling, as with would and could?

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    #46

    Re: shall

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    The only "proof" I've ever seen offered from dictionaries or style manuals that modals have tense is reported speech .
    You have to define exactly what you mean by a proof in that sense.
    The difficult of defining such idea in English was on of the main reasons I decided to dive in Math and Physics rather than in Linguistics.

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    So when an ESL thinks that 'might' goes with 'may' in the same fashion as 'jumped' goes with 'jump', when in fact that isn't how it works in language, I begin to suspect that there's something amiss.
    An ESL should know that to learn English he must interact with native speakers in all possible ways - it is not just a matter of reason. It takes not a simple book or a teacher to do the job.

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    When a native speaker of English, a professor of English/writing/grammar writes in his site dedicated to English and grammar,
    Nowadays anyone can construct his site dedicated to English grammar, it is so easy - do you have yours? Many of them are not even run by native speakers and/or academics. It is up to the users to select the good ones.


    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    Really, one has to ask why, considering that this site is the site for a US college that is actually attempting to teach students about English grammar.
    Ok, ok, I agree with you here.


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    #47

    Re: shall

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    Maybe you're talking about the conditional of shall, which is also spelt "should." Couldn't the past and conditional have the same spelling, as with would and could?
    I'm puzzled as to what you mean by suggesting that the conditional of shall is should, Konungursvia. The same for would and could.


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    #48

    Re: shall

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    I haven't had enough time to read through all those references yet. But I can say that rereading all the posts in this thread is beginning to give me a headache!
    That happens when one thinks deeply about any difficult subject, YM.

    Quote Originally Posted by ymnisky View Post
    It is not that easy to write a dictionary - we must appreciate their effort. Besides there are dictionaries and dictionaries.

    Some people give all their lifetime to write such dictionaries and manuals, that is not an easy task.
    That's all true, but it doesn't negate the fact that they have made a mistake by defining modals as having tense.

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    #49

    Re: shall

    Quote Originally Posted by albeit View Post
    I'm puzzled as to what you mean by suggesting that the conditional of shall is should, Konungursvia. The same for would and could.
    "When I was young I would go to school by bus"; "If I were rich, I would buy a car."

    "When I was young I could climb trees"; "If I were rich, I could retire."
    Does he not mean this?

    As for "should" being the conditional for "shall", I'm not sure what he means.

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    #50

    Re: shall

    If you were my wife, I should drink it. -- Winston Churchill. Here the should is as conditional as a would.

    Also, if we look to Icelandic, my own ancestral language, and the other modern Scandinavian languages, we see that cognates of should are polite conditionals. Maybe that is also evidence of what I'm trying (but not succeeding) in suggesting.

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