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Have all of these alternatives all but disappeared?

I must confess I see ‘who’ and mentally correct it to ‘whom’ (when in the object case, of course) and ‘will’ and ‘would’ used in the first person (except in the emphatic sense, naturally) also get a dose of the mental blue pencil.

Is anyone else here as much of an editor as I?
 
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Picture of BobHale
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In the case of who/whom I tend to agree with you. It's a pity that "whom" seems to have almost disappeared from our language apart from in the hackneyed "to whom it may concern".
Fighting to preserve it is a battle that while not yet completely lost looks hopeless.

Shall and will, like should and would, are another matter.
While it might seem an easy rule that you are trying to apply, it's actually anything but.

Fowler devotes about 2000 words to it over several pages and two separate entries but fails to draw any real conclusion as to the desirability of maintaining a difference.
Partridge gives the issue similar space but, as ever, takes a more reactionary stance bemoaning the loss of the distinction (though I have only an old edition and that might not be the case in more recent ones).

My view is that a "rule" that requires 2000 words to explain it and is breached as often as it is observed is a pretty poor rule.

I have no problems at all with losing these distinctions. In speech we are all perfectly able to distinguish strong intent from simply futurity by tone of voice.

Glaubt es mir - das Geheimnis, um die größte Fruchtbarkeit und den größten Genuß vom Dasein einzuernten, heisst: gefährlich leben.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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Picture of Graham Nice
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I do say to whom and with whom fairly frequently, but always feel a bit of arse for doing so. I get the feeling that very few of my students will grow to us such precise language.

As for shall/will etc, I was never taught it anyway. I would have saved the lad from drowning however he made his pleas.

I shall drown and nobody will save me
I will drown and nobody shall save me
 
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<Asa Lovejoy>
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I shall drown and nobody will save me
I will drown and nobody shall save me
-------------------------------------------
I see a difference. Using shall seems to suggest something other than volition, whereas using will seems to imply that the person wishes to drown. Yet if used emphatically, shall does imply volition. So, whom shall we drown? Big Grin

Another one that I observe often is the confusion of lie/lay. I was surprised to see them confused last night on a joint BBC/History Channel production.
 
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Picture of BobHale
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quote:
Originally posted by Asa Lovejoy:
Using _shall_ seems to suggest something other than volition, whereas using _will_ seems to imply that the person wishes to drown. Yet if used emphatically, _shall_ does imply volition. So, whom shall we drown? Big Grin



Even at its simplest the rule as usually stated is more complicated than that.

For the first person singular or plural (I/we) shall expresses simple futurity (i.e something that is to happen in the future) whereas will expresses intent.

For the second and third persons singular and plural (you/he/she/it/they) it is the other way round with will expressing the future only and shall implying intent.
However the OED, Fowler, Partridge et al list so many exceptions and qualifications to this rule that it can hardly be considered a rule at all.

Nowadays in speech almost no-one maintains the distinction with intent being implied in the degree of emphasis in the tone used.

Of course this is the traditional English usage. Usage in other countries differs.

Glaubt es mir - das Geheimnis, um die größte Fruchtbarkeit und den größten Genuß vom Dasein einzuernten, heisst: gefährlich leben.
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Read all about my travels around the world here.
Read even more of my travel writing and poems on my weblog.
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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Interesting distinction, Bob. I had always thought that you are supposed to use "shall" with first person, "I shall hit you!", but "will" with the second or third person, "He will hit me!". However, when it comes to grammar, Bob, I always bow to you! Wink
 
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Of course that only holds for the ordinary future tense Wink
 
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Picture of shufitz
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Bear asks, "Is anyone else here as much of an editor as I?"

As to "whom": yes, by God.
As to "shall": oh my god! (I don't have a prayer of understanding the rule, let alone following it.)
 
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quote:
Originally posted by shufitz:
Bear asks, "Is anyone else here as much of an editor as I?"



I did wonder if anyone would say anything about that. That, however, was after I'd written it; it wasn't written on purpose.
 
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Picture of Richard English
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Of course, if it is future contitional then there's no confusion.

"I could do this." It is a future possibility from a number of alternatives

"I should do this" It is the correct thing to do out of a number of alternatives.

"I would do this" Regardless of whether it's right or wrong this will be my action.

Richard English
 
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Picture of jerry thomas
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... is also past imperfect, as in "When I was a teenager I would do this at every opportunity." Smile
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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Now, I understand that not everyone uses "whom" anymore. However, there needs to be consistency. I read this today: "I lost a coach who I thought was going to be a good coach. And, I lost a friend whom I thought be a very good friend no matter what happened."

Sheesh!

[BTW, by "lost" he meant that he had lost his friendship with his coach.]
 
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