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    #1

    No person shall/must/man

    --What does the sign over there say?
    --'No person _____ smoke or carry a lighted cigarette, cigar or pipe in this area.'

    A. will B. may C. shall D. must

    This was a test item from China's Sichuan Province 2007 college entrance examination paper. The given answer is C. But I thought we could also use 'may' or 'must'. Am I right?

    Could I ask native speakers to help me please?

  1. RonBee's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: No person shall/must/man

    You can use may there, but not must.
    may - permitted to
    must - requred to

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    #3

    Re: No person shall/must/man

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    You can use may there, but not must.
    may - permitted to
    must - requred to

    Thank you very much, Ronbee.

    After reading your reply, I searched the BNC, and found:

    And he likes it in a certain place and nobody must touch it.
    Now we're going to lock the house and nobody must go in again.

    Here in these two sentences 'must' means 'is permitted/allowed'. So I still
    don't understand why 'must' can't be used. Could you explain it further?

    Thank you again.

  2. RonBee's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: No person shall/must/man

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    Thank you very much, Ronbee.

    After reading your reply, I searched the BNC, and found:

    And he likes it in a certain place and nobody must touch it.
    Now we're going to lock the house and nobody must go in again.

    Here in these two sentences 'must' means 'is permitted/allowed'. So I still
    don't understand why 'must' can't be used. Could you explain it further?

    Thank you again.
    Doesn't the B in BNC stand for "British"? While Americans would (I believe) say "may" instead of "must" in your examples, they would certainly have no trouble understanding them. (I don't know if British usage would allow for "must" in the original example.)




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    #5

    Re: No person shall/must/man

    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee View Post
    Doesn't the B in BNC stand for "British"? While Americans would (I believe) say "may" instead of "must" in your examples, they would certainly have no trouble understanding them. (I don't know if British usage would allow for "must" in the original example.)



    Did you hear me tell the class -- the whole class -- that nobody must leave their seat without first putting up their hand and asking my permission? (Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA)

    nobody must be denied A.P. membership just because a local rival fears the competition. (TIME Magazine Corpus of American English

    Dear Ronbee,I searched the American Corpus and Time Corpus, and found these sentences with 'must' used for sth 'not permitted'. Perhaps Americans use 'must' this way less than 'shall' and 'may'?

    And what would you British native speakers think of the use of 'must' in this test item?

    Thank you again.

  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: No person shall/must/man

    I wouldn't use 'must' in that situation. I agree with RonBee that only 'may' and 'shall' are correct. To me 'Nobody must do....' looks like nobody is obliged to, but can if they want.


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    #7

    Re: No person shall/must/man

    It appears to mean that items that are alight in any way are forbidden, and therefore I would think MAY would be the most apt.

    Not a teacher.

  4. RonBee's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: No person shall/must/man

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    Did you hear me tell the class -- the whole class -- that nobody must leave their seat without first putting up their hand and asking my permission? (Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA)
    I would say "may" there.

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    nobody must be denied A.P. membership just because a local rival fears the competition. (TIME Magazine Corpus of American English
    I would say "may" or "should" there (depending on the intended meaning).

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    Dear Ronbee,I searched the American Corpus and Time Corpus, and found these sentences with 'must' used for sth 'not permitted'. Perhaps Americans use 'must' this way less than 'shall' and 'may'?

    Yes, I think that particular usage is atypical.


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    #9

    Re: No person shall/must/man

    Quote Originally Posted by joham View Post
    --What does the sign over there say?
    --'No person _____ smoke or carry a lighted cigarette, cigar or pipe in this area.'

    A. will B. may C. shall D. must

    This was a test item from China's Sichuan Province 2007 college entrance examination paper. The given answer is C. But I thought we could also use 'may' or 'must'. Am I right?

    Could I ask native speakers to help me please?

    Wow, great question by the looks of it.

    I have to say though, I think it's a strange way to phrase it..

    To be honest, the first time I read it I picked "must"

    I know "may" is grammatically correct , but I thought it sounded too polite for a sign and that put me off a bit when choosing.

    and "shall" makes it sound like one of the commandments...


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    #10

    Re: No person shall/must/man

    I would use may. Shall could be used, but it sounds archaic.

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