"Shall" vs. "Must"

DENVER—It’s the kind of grammar dilemma that could drive a schoolteacher crazy, and Colorado lawmakers are on the case. A bill given preliminary approval in the state House Tuesday clarifies the difference between “must” and “shall.” The so-called “authority verbs” are frequently used in legislation to state that an entity or person is directed to do something.

The legislation approved Tuesday states that “shall” means that a person has a duty. The word “must” means a person or thing is required to meet a condition for a consequence to apply.

Lawmakers joked around using Latin phrases before approving the measure on a unanimous voice vote. One more vote is required before the grammar bill moves to the Senate.
House Bill 29: http://bit.ly/XUKD9D

In the compliance and codes world, shall means must.

Here in NH we have “Shall not” in a few areas of our State law…as in “Shall not” “Estimate or project the cost of repairs” or “Shall not” “Determine any basement or crawlspace water tightness”. A little tricky when the client asks “is this a wet basement”…I have to explain that State law prohibits me from answering the question. I checked with the State Home Inspector Board office for clarification and they told me I can’t comment on a basement’s ability to be wet or dry.

We need those shall nots here in VA