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    #1

    you shan't/ shouldn't

    The following is one of China's provinces' college entrance examination questions:
    --Excuse me, but I want to use your computer to type a report.
    --You _____ have my computer if you don't take care of it.
    A. shan't B. might not C.needn't D. shouldn't
    (The given answer is A.)

    I would think A is too formal and D is the correct answer. Am I right?

    Could I ask native English teachers to help me please? Thank you in advance.
    Last edited by joham; 27-Apr-2008 at 02:04. Reason: a spelling mistake.

  1. Soup's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: you shan't/ shouldn't

    Hi joham

    Of the choices, and even though I never used shan't, A. is definitely the best answer. Here's why. Choice D. shouldn't
    takes can't or don't know how to, not don't:


    You _____ have my computer if you don't take care of it.

    A. shan't
    B. might not
    C.needn't
    D. shouldn't ... if you can't/don't know how to take care of it.



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    #3

    Re: you shan't/ shouldn't

    'should' is used in a conditional sentence to indicate the consequence of a possible or imagined event.
    So:

    If you don't know how to take care of a computer, you shouldn't be allowed to use one (because you might damage it.)

    But in your sentence, it is a reply to an implicit question "May I use your computer"

    The reply - and never mind the future and whether or not that person might ask to borrow it again sometime - right here and now, 'You shall not use my computer (unless you can assure me that you will take care when operating it).'

  2. Neillythere's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: you shan't/ shouldn't

    As a Brit and mentor, but not a teacher, there is an interesting point in the "correct" sentence:

    I have always been brought up on the basis that, in British English, a double negative equates to a positive, i.e:

    You shan't have my computer if you don't take care of it. actually translates as:
    You can have my computer if you do take care of it.

    In American English, I understand, the double negative reinforces the negative.

    This created a problem in my organisation during the final stages of a tendering process, where we were only allowed, under our guidelines, to ask the bidders a single "yes/no" question, to the effect that: "Please confirm that you have not allowed for X in your bid". The American and British bid reviewers had diametrically opposed interpretations of the answers!

    Please beware of this pitfall.

    Best regards
    NT

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    #5

    Re: you shan't/ shouldn't

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    The following is one of China's provinces' college entrance examination question:
    --Excuse me, but I want to use your computer to type a report.
    --You _____ have my computer if you don't take care of it.
    A. shan't B. might not C.needn't D. shouldn't
    (The given answer is A.)

    I would think A is too formal and D is the correct answer. Am I right?
    The problem isn't that shan't is too formal. It's that nobody talks that way. I have never heard anybody say shan't. A more natural sentence might be:
    You may not have my computer if you won't take care of it.

  4. Neillythere's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: you shan't/ shouldn't

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    You may not have my computer if you won't take care of it.
    As a Brit, if I had said it, I would have probably rephrased it to simply say:

    "You can't have my computer unless you're prepared to take care of it."

    This appears to gets us back to the old chestnut of "can" vs "may".

    However, if read as: "You are not able to have(/use) my computer unless [I've given you permission, after you have confirmed that] you're prepared to take care of it", I believe I can get away with using "can"!

    regards
    NT

    PS I agree with RonBee about shall not being too formal. How many of us have asked young children to "Eat your greens" or something else they really didn't want to do and been given the indignant response: "Shan't !!!!"
    Last edited by Neillythere; 26-Apr-2008 at 18:31.

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    #7

    Smile Re: you shan't/ shouldn't

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    The problem isn't that shan't is too formal. It's that nobody talks that way. I have never heard anybody say shan't. A more natural sentence might be:
    You may not have my computer if you won't take care of it.
    There has always been some confusion about when to use shall and will. To simplify this, let me show you something:

    [Standard English]
    I shall see you in an hour. (shall expresses the simple future in the first person, singular and plural)
    He will see me in ten minutes. (will expresses the simple future in the second and third persons, singular and plural)
    _________________________

    I will take you to the zoo next weekend. (will expresses intention or determination on the part of the speaker, especially a promise made by him or her, in the first person, singular and plural)
    Today you shall be with me in Paradise. (shall expresses intention or determination on the part of the speaker or someone other than the actual subject of the verb, especially a promise made by the speaker to or about the subject, in the second and third persons, singular and plural)

    [Informal use]
    I will and we will are quite often used for the simple future.

    So, referring back to the initial sentence, You shan't have my computer if you don't take care of it, it's about someone being refused permission to do something or have something.


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    #8

    Re: you shan't/ shouldn't

    I am not confused. Don't expect Americans to ever use either shan't or shall.

    ~R


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    #9

    Re: you shan't/ shouldn't

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    There has always been some confusion about when to use shall and will. To simplify this, let me show you something:

    [Standard English]
    I shall see you in an hour. (shall expresses the simple future in the first person, singular and plural)
    [I]He ...
    The description of 'shall/will' isn't Standard English, Engee. It's a prescription that never accurately reflected actual language usage.

    +++++++++++++++

    M-W

    shall

    usage From the reams of pronouncements written about the distinction between shall and will—dating back as far as the 17th century—it is clear that the rules laid down have never very accurately reflected actual usage. The nationalistic statements of 18th and 19th century British grammarians, who commonly cited the misuses of the Irish, the Scots, and occasionally the Americans, suggest that the traditional rules may have come closest to the usage of southern England. Some modern commentators believe that English usage is still the closest to the traditionally prescribed norms. Most modern commentators allow that will is more common in nearly all uses. The entries for shall and will in this dictionary show current usage.

    +++++++++++++++

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    #10

    Re: you shan't/ shouldn't

    I for one have no confusion about when to use shall and when to use will. For one thing, I never use shall.

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