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Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

(OP)
In Y14.100 4.26.3 states that, "... “Shall” establishes a mandatory requirement... “Will” establishes a declaration of purpose on the part of the design activity..." and that "... "Should” and “may” are used when it is necessary to express nonmandatory provisions."

However, I recently came across this article, which points out that the use of the word shall, in the legal world, is frowned upon for various reasons and proposes that the ONLY right way to indicate mandatory requirements is to use "must". A drawing is nothing if not a contract and so I wonder what the reason for the usage of shall could be beyond picking something for the sake of having it specified. Anyone have any thoughts?

Link to article: What's the only word that means mandatory? Here's what law and policy say about "shall, will, may and must."

I'm not a vegetarian because I dislike meat... I'm a vegetarian because I HATE PLANTS!!

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

"Shall" isn't inherently a weasel word, but the weasels have made it one.

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

In the past 40 years I have always understood that SHALL on a drawing indicated a mandatory requirement. Nothing vague, no wiggle room. But I suppose in this age when we have Presidents under oath debating the definition of the word IS that nothing has meaning anymore.

----------------------------------------

The Help for this program was created in Windows Help format, which depends on a feature that isn't included in this version of Windows.

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

A few years ago I received training on this very topic since I worked on a lot of federal projects back then. We were directed to change all instances of "shall" to "must." However, that wasn't that big of a deal because we already had changed all of our specs and drawing comments to the imperative voice, which eliminated almost all use of "shall." The change to imperative voice was a much bigger change in terms of workload!

xnuke
"Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.
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RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

In our requirements documents we always have a definitions section that lays out the meanings of "shall" and "should" so there is no confusion. Those are the only options we use in requirements.

In drawings, we don't typically use either. Our notes look more like "Finish: Bead blast per XXXX and anodize per XXXX" or we use "to be" as in "Parts to be permanently marked with part # and revision in area indicated".

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

UK Defence Standards now contain a definitions section which lays out a whole hierarchy:

Must - A mandatory requirement arising from law.

Shall - A mandatory requirement of the standard.

Should - A requirement to be complied with unless an equally good alternative is agreed with the customer.

A.

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

xnuke: I use the imperative as much as possible. It's cleaner than using "shall", but I'm not against "shall" as we engineers understand it.

hendersdc: I have used master specs that included definitions for "shall" and other words of import. It's a good idea.

zeusfaber: I like the definitions you present. That keeps us "shall" partisans happy and addresses (in my mind) the flawed point behind the FAA's dictate.

Per Hallec's link: "With time, laws evolve to reflect new knowledge and standards." I understand that standards changes, but "new knowledge" is not at all a part of this discussion. In fact, the entire FAA statement is patronizing.

==========
"Is it the only lesson of history that mankind is unteachable?"
--Winston S. Churchill

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

I personally have no problem with use of a word - any word - as long it is explicitly defined, just like OP mentioned in Y14.100.
The text is very clear: "Shall" means this, "Should" means that, etc.
Don't we have bigger problems on hand?

"For every expert there is an equal and opposite expert"
Arthur C. Clarke Profiles of the future

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

The drilled holes, will be / shall be / must be de-burred as per the specification -- where is the problem?


I agree with CheckerHater - there are bigger problems than this to be sort out.

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. (Sherlock Holmes - A Scandal in Bohemia.)

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

Non-mandatory requirements.
Should
May
At a minimum

If something is non-mandatory and there is a cost incurred to comply then compliance will not happen.

Nor should you expect it to.

I had a supplier tell me once "you asked for this at a minimum. I'm giving you the minimum."

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

(OP)
Very interesting... Thanks for the input. I agree, if it's defined properly as it is in Y14.100 then there's no real problem. I work with people who are hardly aware of the Y14.5 spec however, and so, informing them that Y14.100 is referenced in Y14.5 as a way to indicate governing rules is a bit of a lost cause... A sound argument that transcends the specs is best here.

I'm not a vegetarian because I dislike meat... I'm a vegetarian because I HATE PLANTS!!

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

My understanding is the credible consensus is "must". In Australia "shall" is seldom used in legislation, however "shall" has historically been used [incorrectly] by "engineers".

The following provides a summary:

http://www.specsandcodes.com/articles/Other/Must%2...

Various other references recommend "must", including:

https://www.amazon.com/A-Manual-Style-Contract-Dra...

http://www.federationpress.com.au/bookstore/book.a...

https://www.opc.gov.au/sites/default/files/plain_e...


Despite being slightly off topic, English is important in general, and the following may be of interest:

https://www.luc.edu/media/lucedu/law/students/publ...



RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

Our convention in writing specifications is to use 'shall' in defining the contract requirements for the contractor (what the contractor shall do), and 'will' refers to what we (owner/engineer) are responsible for. This is defined in the early sections of our standard specifications.

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

Yes, I would never say, "The owner shall. . . "

f-d

ípapß gordo ainÆt no madre flaca!

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

In my committee work I don't know that we ever debated "shall" vs. "must" within the Spec, but we had big issues with "may" and in many cases "may" got replaced by "shall be permitted to be" (only a little wordy!!!)

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

I don't believe I have ever seen a document using the word "shall" get past legal review whether a contract, technical manual, or proposed legislation, most of which have contained a glossary defining various verbs. I do see it used occasionally on supplier prints pointing toward specific standards, but I would never use it if allowed as its not natural for me.

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

You obviously live in a different part of the world to me. We drown in stuff like:

Subject to the following paragraphs, no person shall sound, or cause or permit to be sounded, any horn, gong, bell or siren fitted to or carried on a vehicle which is ........

(There's a certain charm to the fact that in the UK, the chimes sounded by ice-cream vans are regulated by Rule 99 of C&U)

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

Some areas stateside definitely drown in regulation, tho I have yet to know of any that regulate ice cream truck jingles. I don't believe I would find any charm in it if they did, makes you wonder when they're going to start punishing public flatulence in the name of global warming.

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

From an ISO Technical Specification (precursor to a standard) I have been reviewing this week, the following definitions:

Shall: Normative or mandatory requirement

Should: Recommendation of good practice

May: Permissive or allowed

Can: Possible or capable -- statement of fact

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

(OP)

Quote (xnuke)

A few years ago I received training on this very topic since I worked on a lot of federal projects back then. We were directed to change all instances of "shall" to "must." However, that wasn't that big of a deal because we already had changed all of our specs and drawing comments to the imperative voice, which eliminated almost all use of "shall." The change to imperative voice was a much bigger change in terms of workload!

I think I may like this solution the best. I can communicate a requirement to use the imperative voice to the other drawing authors, allow the definition available anywhere on the web, based on nearly all language conventions, drive usage, and it is in my opinion the most clear and concise way to specify requirements on a drawing. Thank you all for your input.

I'm not a vegetarian because I dislike meat... I'm a vegetarian because I HATE PLANTS!!

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

"Must" is better. It's more direct and more easily understood by a wider range of people.

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

Quote:

Non-mandatory requirements.
Should
May
At a minimum

What are you saying here? How is "at a minimum" non mandatory?

RE: Use of the word "Shall" - Bad Idea?

I agree with this site:

https://www.plainlanguage.gov/guidelines/conversat...

Instead of using “shall,” use:
“must” for an obligation
“must not” for a prohibition
“may” for a discretionary action
“should” for a recommendation

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