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The Complete Plain Words Hardcover – 1 Sep 1988

4.4 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: David R Godine Pub; 3rd Rev edition (Sept. 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879237333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879237332
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.2 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,588,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From the Publisher

A sample extract:

(iv) Shall and will.

English text-books used to begin by stating the rule that to express the `plain' future shall is used in the first person and will in the second and third:

I shall go

You will go

He will go


and that if it is a matter not of plain future but of volition, permission or obligation it is the other way round:

I will go (I am determined to go, or I intend to go)

You shall go (You must go, or you are permitted to go)

He shall go (He must go, or he is permitted to go)

But the idiom of the Celts is different. They have never recognised `I shall go'. For them `I will go' is the plain future. The story is a very old one of the drowning Scot who was misunderstood by English onlookers and left to his fate because he cried, `I will drown and nobody shall save me'.

American practice follows the Celtic, and in this matter, as in so many others, the English have taken to imitating the American. If we go by practice rather than precept, we can no longer say dogmatically that `I will go' for the plain future is wrong, or smugly with Dean Alford:

"I never knew an Englishman who misplaced shall and will; I hardly ever have known an Irishman or Scotsman who did not misplace them sometimes."

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Sir Ernest Gowers was born in 1880 and served in a number of illustrious occupations. He advised numerous commissions and committees on a wide variety of subjects from work conditions to the preservation of historic houses. Sidney Greenbaum was a Director of the Survey of English Usage and was the author of many books on grammar and linguistics. Janet Whitcut has worked on a number of prestgious dictionaries and is now a freelance writer with a special interest in langauge. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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