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I came across this distinction between shall and will in Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage:

That-clauses after intend or intention, desire, demand, be anxious, &c., have shall & should for all persons. Among the &c. are not included hope, anticipate, & the like; but the drawing of the line is not easy; roughly, shall & should are used when the word on which the that-clause depends expresses an influence that affects the result, as a demand does, but a hope or fear does not; a serviceable illustration is expect; mistresses expect (i.e. demand) that their maids shall wear caps; but we expect (i.e. are of opinion) that tomorrow will be fine.

He enumerates a few more examples, one of which is, “And it is intended that this shall be extended to every division and important branch.”

I acknowledge that it’s been about hundred years since its publication, and that Fowler was more pedantic than I could ever hope or want to be, but I had to wonder about the changes in what we call the “mandative subjunctive” in the intervening time. For example, I would have written the sentence, “It is intended that this be extended to every division and important branch,” in preference to shall. But had I written shall or should, would the meaning of the sentence have changed? Moreover, is there any meaningful difference between shall and should in this case? Maybe only among hyper-fastidious speakers?

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    Fowler spoke a variety of higher-class British English, that I don't believe ever existed in the United States, and that is now also extinct in the British Isles. I don't believe that the present American usage of the mandative subjunctive descended directly from the British usage that Fowler describes; instead, they're both remnants of a more widely used subjunctive form in Early Modern English. Jul 6, 2020 at 22:01
  • @PeterShor do you think there’s much difference between shall/should in the sentence, “it is intended that this shall/should be ...”? I suppose “should” suggests a more remote possibility. Jul 7, 2020 at 1:53
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    @David Marlowe: My impression is that shall be means that we intend it to be so in the future, while should be can be used for a more indefinite time period that includes the present. But I'm an American who'd use intended that this be in all cases, so you really shouldn't trust me on the distinction between should and shall here. Jul 7, 2020 at 2:11
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    I was taught by a well qualified teacher in the UK in the1960s that "I/we shall go" was the normal form for the first person and that "I/we will go" expressed firmer intent. I was also taught that this convention was reversed for the other persons so that "You/he/she/they will go" was the normal structure but "You/he/she/they shall go" was more prescriptive. This seems to be at odds with Fowler's statement that shall and should express influence for all persons.
    – BoldBen
    Jul 7, 2020 at 4:28
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    @David Marlowe: if you read Fowler's explanation of when to use shall, should, will, and would, it is astonishingly complicated. And nobody learns intuition for this as a young child anymore, because this aspect of the language is (thankfully) extinct. So there are not going to be very many people who can answer this question with confidence. Jul 7, 2020 at 12:18

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In this context, "should" is just the past simple of "shall".

Mistresses expect that their maids shall wear caps.

vs

Years ago, mistresses expected that their maids should wear caps.


There may be no rule (and others may disagree) but I am of the opinion that "to intend" is not strong enough to allow "be".

“And it is intended that this shall be extended to every division and important branch.”

vs

“And it is demanded that this be extended to every division and important branch.”

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  • Is there much of a difference between, “it is intended that this should be,” and “it is intended that this shall be”? The sentence with “should” seems the more remote possibility. Jul 7, 2020 at 0:37
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Years ago I (an American) came across example (1) below while reading a book. I was sure there was a misprint. When I learned there was not, I researched BrE usage of the indicative vs the mandative subjunctive and added some examples to a Wiki page:

This dual statement/directive use of verbs like insist, suggest and propose can lead to confusion in cases where some, mainly British, speakers informally use the indicative and not the subjunctive, strongly preferred by many, especially Americans.

Examples:

(1) Marjorie had insisted that Barbara spent the morning resting in her stateroom. As it was grey outside and the wind was markedly cooler, she was not deprived too much. [Peter Lovesey, The False Inspector Dew, 1982, p. 200]

(2) Vivian wept as she felt so helpless to do anything for her little baby. She asked John to call Father O'Brien to baptize little Caroline and insisted that he went home to rest. [Mary Jo Stanley, Boxed Secrets, 2011, p. 194]

(3) He worked in an optical business off Baker Street, and I suggested that he studied lenses and optics, and got him into night school. [Leslie Thompson, Jeffrey P. Green, Leslie Thompson, an Autobiography, 1985, p. 143]

(4) Undaunted by mere appearances, Thornton proposed that he underwent an immediate tracheostomy and that he should be warmed by gentle massage and washing and be transfused with fresh lamb's blood! [Transactions of the Medical Society of London, 2000, Vol. 117, p. 6 ]

(5) They were insistent that he checked it out. He was exhausted and right now all he wanted to do was to take his tired ass home and get some sleep. [Bernard L. Jr. Satterwhite, Playaz and Wolves, 2009, p. 139]

(6) That's odd, because originally it was John who was adamant that we brought in a keyboard player. [Hugh Cornwell, Jim Dury, The Stranglers: Song by Song, 2002, p. 292]

In example 1, many American speakers, after reading the second sentence, will be jarred into thinking the indicative spent in the first sentence is a mistake for the subjunctive spend, because the second sentence makes it clear that insist was used as a directive and not a statement.

Examples 2 and 3 may similarly perplex some readers: context suggests the verbs are directives, which clashes with the indicative mood the authors use.

Example 4 is a curious mix of both British alternatives to the subjunctive: the indicative (underwent) and the modal (should be warmed… be transfused).

Examples 5 and 6 show that some non-verbal constructions can have similar mandative force. American versions of the above examples would use the subjunctive: (1) spend; (2) go; (3) study; (4) undergo [and delete should]; (5) check out; (6) bring in.

The Brits love their tea; we Americans love the mandative subjunctive. I said the indicative in the above cases was "informal" in BrE usage. Is that accurate?

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  • Although related and insightful, this does not appear to answer the question asked, which was: “But had I written shall or should, would the meaning of the sentence have changed? Moreover, is there any meaningful difference between shall and should in this case? Maybe only among hyper-fastidious speakers?” It moreover ends in a question asking whether using the indicative in places where Americans use the subjunctive is considered informal in British English. If you have a new question, please use the Ask Question button.
    – tchrist
    Jul 20, 2021 at 13:22
  • Aren't Mary Jo Stanley and Bernard L. Jr. Satterwhite [sic] American authors? // (1) 'Marjorie had insisted that Barbara spent the morning resting in her stateroom. ' would need appropriate prior context (eg 'The inspector had come close to actually accusing Barbara of the murder.') not to default to the deontic sense. //// Periphrastic should is the normal usage in the UK in formal, and certainly in otherwise ambiguous, situations. It's more powerful at disambiguating than the mandative subjunctive. Jul 20, 2021 at 13:27
  • I took the OP's "...but I had to wonder about the changes in what we call the “mandative subjunctive” in the intervening time." as an indirect but separate question.
    – DjinTonic
    Jul 20, 2021 at 13:28
  • Related.
    – tchrist
    Dec 17, 2023 at 18:38
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In Google Ngram Viewer, the search terms that he be,that he shall be,that he should be,that he were show the preponderance of that he should be in both AE up to c.1904 and consistently and to the present in BE.

In 1904, in AE, that he be took over until c. 2006 as the most frequently printed phrase of the four. Around 2006, that he be lost sufficient frequency as to place on a par with that he should be.

Without evidence I suspect that the 1904 American phenomenon was caused by a tipping point being reached that was caused by immigrants from countries with a language with an active subjunctive in all tenses of the verb.

NB Google Ngram Viewer is not too good at distinguishing AE from BE, so the results must be seen in that light. An interesting test is to enter “color,favor” in BE – there should be no results…

In both cases, it can be seen that the entire idea of the subjunctive and the implied subjunctive has undergone a decline.

It is worth noting that

1 English has only two tenses: the past and the present. There is no future tense. “I will/shall buy an apple” is clearly an expression of a current intention.

2 The artificial rule of “use the mandative shall with I and we, and the intentional will with other pronouns” stems from the erroneous belief that shall was appropriate because, whereas you could ensure that I or we did something as one had entire command of oneself (and thus grant certainty), you could not do this with you, she/he/it, they as they had minds of their own and their circumstances might change.

3 It is debatable whether “It is intended” can front a mandative – it is more likely that the “should” implies a strong “ought to” or slightly weakened “must”, both of which allow for exceptional circumstances: e.g. “Drivers should not sound their horn.” Does not apply if you are being attacked by a bear. And is thus marginally better than “Drivers must not sound their horn.”

That said if we take the examples

It is intended that this be extended = The current intention is that, at some time in the future, there is a extension to this and that that extension completed by someone.

It is intended that this shall be extended = The current intention is that, at some time in the future, there is a extension to this and that that extension is completed by someone who I have the power to command.

It is intended that this should be extended = The current intention is that, at some time in the future, there is a extension to this and that it would be proper for that extension to be completed by someone who someone/I has/have the power to command.

It was intended that this were extended = The old intention was that, at some time in the past, there would be a extension to this.

It can be seen that the subjunctive has no mandative force, it is more a wish with the strength of the wish being dependent upon the speaker’s command, whereas the pseudo-subjunctive formed with shall/should does have that force.

(This can be seen in the famous subjunctive example “God save the Queen!” In this there is no mandative force as one cannot “command” God to do anything, you can only hope that He sees fit to do something in line with your entreaty.)

is there any meaningful difference between shall and should in this case?

Yes, for the “shall” version see 2 above – it carries almost absolute certainty and for the “should” version see 3 above.

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