DEFECTIVE STRONG VERBS.
247. There are several
verbs which are lacking in one or more principal parts. They are as
248. May is used as either
indicative or subjunctive, as it has two meanings. It is indicative when it
expresses permission, or, as it sometimes does, ability, like the
word can: it is subjunctive when it expresses doubt as to the reality of
an action, or when it expresses wish, purpose, etc.
Indicative Use: Permission. Ability.
If I may lightly employ the Miltonic figure, "far
off his coming shines."—Winier.
A stripling arm might
A mass no host could raise.
His superiority none might question.—Channing.
In whatever manner the separate parts of a constitution
may be arranged, there is one general principle, etc.—Paine.
(See also Sec. 223.)
And from her fair and unpolluted
May violets spring!
249. Can is used in
the indicative only. The l in could did not belong there
originally, but came through analogy with should and would.
Could may be subjunctive, as in Sec. 220.
250. Must is
historically a past-tense form, from the obsolete verb motan, which
survives in the sentence, "So mote it be." Must is present or
past tense, according to the infinitive used.
All must concede to him a sublime power of
This, of course, must have been an ocular
251. The same remarks apply
to ought, which is historically the past tense of the verb owe.
Like must, it is used only in the indicative mood; as,
The just imputations on our own faith ought first
to be removed.... Have we valuable territories and important
posts...which ought long since to have been
It will be noticed that all the other defective verbs take
the pure infinitive without to, while ought always has
252. The principal trouble
in the use of shall and will is the disposition, especially in
the United States, to use will and would, to the neglect of
shall and should, with pronouns of the first person; as, "I think
I will go."
Uses of shall and
The following distinctions must be observed:—
(1) With the FIRST PERSON, shall and should are
Futurity and questions—first
(a) In making simple statements or predictions
about future time; as,—
The time will come full soon, I shall be
gone.—L. C. Moulton.
(b) In questions asking for orders, or implying
obligation or authority resting upon the subject; as,—
With respect to novels, what shall I
How shall I describe the luster which at that
moment burst upon my vision?—C. Brockden
Second and third persons.
(2) With the SECOND AND THIRD PERSONS, shall and
should are used,—
(a) To express authority, in the form of command,
promise, or confident prediction. The following are examples:—
Never mind, my lad, whilst I live thou shalt
never want a friend to stand by thee.—Irving.
They shall have venison to eat, and corn to
The sea shall crush thee; yea, the ponderous wave
up the loose beach shall grind and scoop thy grave.—Thaxter.
She should not walk, he
said, through the dust and heat of
Nay, she should ride like a queen, not plod along like
indirect quotations, to express the same idea that the original speaker
put forth (i.e., future action); for example,—
He declares that he shall win the purse from
She rejects his suit with scorn, but assures him that
she shall make great use of her power over him.—Macaulay.
Fielding came up more and more bland and smiling, with
the conviction that he should win in the end.—A. Larned.
Those who had too presumptuously concluded that they
should pass without combat were something disconcerted.—Scott.
(c) With direct questions of the second
person, when the answer expected would express simple futurity;
"Should you like to go to school at
First, second and third
(3) With ALL THREE PERSONS,—
(a) Should is used with the meaning of
obligation, and is equivalent to ought.
I never was what I should be.—H. James, Jr.
Milton! thou should'st be living at this
He should not flatter himself with the delusion
that he can make or unmake the reputation of other men.—Winter.
(b) Shall and should are both used in
dependent clauses of condition, time, purpose, etc.; for
Shall be a mansion for all stately
Suppose this back-door gossip should be utterly
blundering and untrue, would any one wonder?—Thackeray.
Jealous lest the sky should have a listener.—Byron.
If thou should'st ever come by chance or choice
If I should be where I no more can hear thy
That accents and looks so winning should disarm
me of my resolution, was to be expected.—C. B.
253. Will and
would are used as follows:—
Authority as to future
(1) With the FIRST PERSON, will and would
are used to express determination as to the future, or a promise; as, for
I will go myself now, and will not return
until all is finished.—Cable.
And promised...that I would do him justice, as
the sole inventor.—Swift.
Disguising a command.
(2) With the SECOND PERSON, will is used to express
command. This puts the order more mildly, as if it were merely expected action;
Thou wilt take the skiff, Roland, and two of my
people,... and fetch off certain plate and belongings.—Scott.
You will proceed to Manassas at as early a moment
as practicable, and mark on the grounds the works, etc.—War
(3) With both SECOND AND THIRD PERSONS, will and
would are used to express simple futurity, action merely expected to
occur; for example,—
All this will sound wild and chimerical.—Burke.
She would tell you that punishment is the reward
of the wicked.—Landor.
When I am in town, you'll always have somebody to
sit with you. To be sure, so you will.—Dickens.
(4) With FIRST, SECOND, AND THIRD PERSONS, would is
used to express a wish,—the original meaning of the word
will; for example,—
Subject I omitted: often
Would that a momentary emanation from thy glory
would visit me!—C. B. Brown.
Thine was a dangerous gift, when thou wast born, The
gift of Beauty. Would thou hadst it not.—Rogers
It shall be gold if thou wilt, but thou shalt
answer to me for the use of it.—Scott.
What wouldst thou have a good great man
(5) With the THIRD PERSON, will and would
often denote an action as customary, without regard to future time; as,
They will go to Sunday schools, through storms
their brothers are afraid of.... They will stand behind a table at a
fair all day.—Holmes
On a slight suspicion, they would cut off the
hands of numbers of the natives, for punishment or intimidation.—Bancroft.
In this stately chair would he sit, and this
magnificent pipe would he smoke, shaking his right knee with a constant