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I have a question pertaining to "summon" and "summons".

I read Steve Jobs' biography. On page 310, the writer says, "Steve would summon the team into the boardroom...". Shouldn't it be "summons"?


  • This is the advice from Fowler's:
    "Summon is a verb only, whereas summons is a noun and verb. A summons (plural summonses) is an order to appear before a judge or magistrate, and to summons someone is to issue them with a summons. Summon is the ordinary word meaning ‘to call formally’, as in The ambassadors were summoned to the White House, and (typically with up) in the figurative sense of evoking a reaction or feeling within oneself (could not summon up the energy to reply)."

  • The OED records some uses of to summons meaning the same as to summon, but observes that this is 'now rare'

  • Zooterkins! I've been doing things all wrong! I'd have used summons if the sentence were constructed differently. "He summons the group into the boardroom..." just as I would say "turns the dial" or "races the clock". Will I be taken to the woodshed for these usages?

  • DavidCrosbieDavidCrosbie ✭✭✭
    edited January 2018

    Yes, @hwgood2003
    'He summons the group into the boardroom.'
    'He summonses the group to appear in court as witnesses.'

  • SUMMON vs SUMMONS.......
    Here are two different sentences........

    1. Steve would SUMMON the team into the boardroom.
    2. John SUMMONS the team into the boardroom.

    Sentence 1 is used for a past reference (to tell about an action he would perform) whereas Sentence 2 is elaborating an activity, a habit or a duty which John performs (possibly even today and in future as well).

    To further elaborate the difference, look at the following sentences,
    l. My mom would pick me up and play with me all day.
    (Common sense : when i was a kid)
    ll. My mom makes me a pie every morning.

    I hope i was able to help you my friend @Antaryamin . English is my love and so if anybody finds any mistake in this comment, please, please, please let me know and help me get one step closer to my love. It's a discussion after all. Adieu.

  • And here's a third sentence

    1. Steve and John would SUMMONS people as witnesses if they thought they might have any information at all.
  • And @Antaryamin, it is definitely 'Steve would summon' in your example sentence. The 'would' is the word that changes it all. Without the 'would', if you are using the third person, you would use 'summons' (with the 's') in this context. I hope the below is useful:

    I summon OR I would summon
    You summon OR You would summon
    He/she summons OR He/she would summon

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