What is the most proper verb form to use in a list of requirements?

Each board member must meet the following requirements:

  • [not have/not having/do not have/does not have] any blood relationship with other directors;
  • ....
  • I'd start the list Each board member must meet the following requirements. // They must + [not have] ... Mar 10 '16 at 13:51

You have to look at is as though you were saying the following sentence each time:

 Each board member (verb) (requirement). 

In this example, the subject is each board member.

Each is always singular. This narrows down your options a bit.

But as I read it, you still have a few choices:

 does not have
 should not have
 must not have
 shall not have

The one you choose should depend on the firmness of the requirement / level of formality you wish to use.

Should not have isn't terribly firm, but it works in this context.

Does not have is firm, but it doesn't quite work if we're trying to express a requirement (a should, a must, or a shall).

Must not have is very firm.

Shall not have is very firm, and also very formal and authoritative. Think strict legalese.

Obviously, you can change the verb / verb tense and remove 'not' where necessary. Example (if using must): Must have, must be, must sign, must not have been, etc. In addition, you can mix and match these to suit the firmness level of each requirement.

This should give you an idea of the options. Any of these work, and none of them are technically incorrect - ultimately, the final decision belongs to those who are in charge of drafting / editing the document.

  • 1
    Since the OP has already chosen to apply 'must' to all requirements (i.e., 'each board member must meet the following requirements'), it would be acceptable to simply repeat 'must' before each subsequent item in the list (e.g., 'Must not have any blood relationship...' and so on). The alternative would be not to repeat the modal for the imperative, producing 'Not have any blood relationship...' and so on.
    – Egox
    Mar 10 '16 at 10:55
  • 1
    There is actually no requirement that the same modal is repeated as used in 'must meet the following requirements.' In fact, the only thing each board member 'must' do according to this initial statement is 'meet the following requirements.' The actual requirements are independent of the initial 'must.' Each requirement could be a 'does,' a 'must,' a 'should,' or a 'shall,' as I mentioned. IMO, 'must' is probably the best and most congruent choice, but I included a variety of choices in my answer in order to illustrate that there is indeed more than one valid wording option.
    – Adam Hayes
    Mar 10 '16 at 11:13
  • 1
    I would've also included 'will,' but in this context, I think that is best saved for the job duties / description - i.e. "Each board member WILL be assigned to a special committee according to his or her abilities..." etc. "Will" isn't a very good choice when describing prerequisites.
    – Adam Hayes
    Mar 10 '16 at 11:20
  • 1
    Your other suggestions are perfectly valid alternatives to 'must', but I'm not sure that I agree with an 'everyone must have X' that subsequently defines X as, for example 'should have' or 'shall have'. Isn't this using more than one auxillary, which begins to sound like supposition (e.g., 'It must be that he doesn't have any blood relationship'?
    – Egox
    Mar 10 '16 at 11:43

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