Evidence for Continued Overuse of “Shall” in the Twenty-Third Century

While trawling the far reaches of the Netflix galaxy, I encountered that fixture of the Western canon, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. I leave it to others to explore the glories of this oeuvre. What caught my attention is what happens at 54:00. Spock’s protege Saavik (below) reminds Admiral Kirk of General Order 15:

No flag officer shall beam into a hazardous area without armed escort.

SaavikIt’s reassuring to know that in a future of warp drive and the Genesis Device, among other marvels, drafters of legal documents will still be overdosing on shall. Me, I’d have said “A flag officer may beam into a hazardous area only with an armed escort.”

If in the twenty-third century Starfleet wishes to fine-tune the General Orders, my cryogenically frozen head will be available for consulting at my usual rates, adjusted for inflation.

About the author

Ken Adams is the leading authority on how to say clearly whatever you want to say in a contract. He’s author of A Manual of Style for Contract Drafting, and he offers online and in-person training around the world. He’s also chief content officer of LegalSifter, Inc., a company that combines artificial intelligence and expertise to assist with review of contracts.