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Which is grammatically correct and why?

  1. Members are requested to pay their subscriptions in time.
  2. All the Members are requested to pay their subscriptions in time.
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2  
You forgot 1½) All Members are... –  Mr Lister Oct 4 '12 at 5:53

4 Answers 4

up vote -1 down vote accepted

The first is a request, the second a description of procedure.

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+1 for the most succinct answer! –  Kristina Lopez Oct 4 '12 at 7:31
1  
It may be succinct, but I see little justification for this distinction. Either utterance can be interpreted either way. –  FumbleFingers Oct 4 '12 at 15:34
    
Neo, the second is the same as the first one, with the exception of 'All the'. Both are requests. You have nothing to back up your claim that the first is a request and the second is somehow a description. –  Souta Oct 5 '12 at 9:08
    
Souta: I'll back him up. "Customers / Passengers / Members are requested to ...." is a commonly used way to give polite, formal instructions. –  Pitarou Oct 7 '12 at 21:43
    
It's a subtle (and therefore subjective) difference, but I still see this as correct. Though perhaps adding of procedure to the end is even more accurate. –  neokio Oct 8 '12 at 7:21

Both are grammatically correct, but they are used in different contexts.


Members are requested to ....

is a very formal, polite way to give an order. You often hear it on aircraft, e.g.:

Passengers are requested to return to their seats, fasten their seatbelts, and return their seats to the upright position.

This is probably the form that you should be using.


All the members are requested to ...

is not usually used to give instructions. You are just describing the situation. E.g.:

All the members are requested to pay their subscriptions on time, but more than 20% pay late.

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This isn't a grammar problem but a semantics question:

Is there a difference between saying "Members are" and "All members are"?

I think the default assumption is that they are equivalent, unless it's common and accepted practice in the club for some members to pay their dues late.

I also think the phrase in time should be changed to on time. The former phrase means to do something before something else happens, e.g.,

Be at the station in time to find a seat on the train or you'll have to stand.

The latter means to do something before the deadline, i.e., in a timely manner, e.g.,

Please pay your dues on time. If you're late too often, you will be asked to pay a 10% surcharge.

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"In time" can also mean "not right now but at some unspecified time in the future". As in, "I can't do it right now, but I'll get around to it in time." I suspect that is rather the opposite of the intended meaning here! –  Jay Oct 4 '12 at 14:07
    
@Jay: Yes, it can mean "eventually", but I agree that it's not what in time in the OP's question means. –  user21497 Oct 4 '12 at 15:24
    
Years ago when I was a member of the Procrastinator's Club, they did have a 10% penalty if you paid your dues on time. :-) –  Jay Oct 4 '12 at 16:21
    
Aha! A special case. :-) –  user21497 Oct 4 '12 at 16:51

Using members, the sentence addresses the group of people comprising members as a unit.

Using all members, on the other hand, addresses individual members.

The difference, as Bill Franke has noted, is not one of grammar but semantics. It may be important, say, from a protocol point of view.

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