Nebraska Revised Statute 49-802

Chapter 49


Statutes; general rules of construction.

Unless such construction would be inconsistent with the manifest intent of the Legislature, rules for construction of the statutes of Nebraska hereafter enacted shall be as follows:

(1) When the word may appears, permissive or discretionary action is presumed. When the word shall appears, mandatory or ministerial action is presumed.

(2) The present tense of any verb includes the future, when applicable.

(3) The phrase shall have been includes past and future cases.

(4) Gender when referring to masculine also includes feminine and neuter.

(5) Words and phrases shall be construed and understood according to the common and approved usage of the language; but technical words and phrases and such others as may have acquired a peculiar and appropriate meaning in the law shall be construed and understood according to such peculiar and appropriate meaning.

(6) Singular words may extend and be applied to several persons or things as well as to one person or thing.

(7) Plural words may extend and be applied to one person or thing as well as to several persons or things.

(8) Title heads, chapter heads, section and subsection heads or titles, and explanatory notes and cross references, in the statutes of Nebraska, supplied in compilation, do not constitute any part of the law.

(9) Whenever, in the statute laws of this state, a reference is made to two or more sections and the section numbers given in the reference are connected by the word to, the reference includes both the sections whose numbers are given and all intervening sections.

(10) No law repealed by subsequent act of the Legislature is revived or affected by the repeal of such repealing act.

(11) The repeal of a curative or validating law does not impair or affect any cure or validation previously perfected thereunder.

The enumeration of the rules of construction set out in this section is not intended to be exclusive, but is intended to set forth the common situations which arise in the preparation of legislative bills where a general statement by the Legislature of its purpose may aid and assist in ascertaining the legislative intent.


  • Laws 1947, c. 182, § 2, p. 603.


  • 1. Singular or plural construction

  • 2. Mandatory or discretionary action

  • 3. Miscellaneous

  • 1. Singular or plural construction

  • Words county superintendent included the plural county superintendents. Moser v. Turner, 180 Neb. 635, 144 N.W.2d 192 (1966).

  • Designation in statute of term polling places conferred authority to designate one polling place. Peterson v. Cook, 175 Neb. 296, 121 N.W.2d 399 (1963).

  • Word municipality in airport act included more than one. Spencer v. Village of Wallace, 153 Neb. 536, 45 N.W.2d 473 (1951).

  • 2. Mandatory or discretionary action

  • On appeal from a county or municipal court, notice of appeal and bond must be filed within ten days after rendition of judgment and this period cannot be prolonged by filing a motion for new trial. Edward Frank Rozman Co. v. Keillor, 195 Neb. 587, 239 N.W.2d 779 (1976).

  • The word "shall" in section 9-504(3), U.C.C., makes notice a mandatory obligation. Bank of Gering v. Glover, 192 Neb. 575, 223 N.W.2d 56 (1974).

  • Use of word may in Sexual Psychopath Act disclosed legislative intent that discretion was vested in district court. State v. Noll, 171 Neb. 831, 108 N.W.2d 108 (1961).

  • Use of the word shall disclosed legislative intent that mandatory action was intended. Anderson v. Carlson, 171 Neb. 741, 107 N.W.2d 535 (1961).

  • 3. Miscellaneous

  • The heading, or catchline, is supplied in the compilation of the statutes and does not constitute any part of the law. State v. Holmes, 221 Neb. 629, 379 N.W.2d 765 (1986).

  • The Chapter heading "Highways, Bridges and Ferries" does not limit the guest statute so as to make it inapplicable to a vehicle on private property. Hale v. Taylor, 192 Neb. 298, 220 N.W.2d 378 (1974).

  • Unless such construction would be inconsistent with the manifest intent of the Legislature, heads supplied in compilation of sections enacted after passage of this section do not constitute any part of the law enacted. Cosentino v. City of Omaha, 186 Neb. 407, 183 N.W.2d 475 (1971).

  • This section constitutes legislative sanction of a sound rule of statutory construction. Yeoman v. Houston, 168 Neb. 855, 97 N.W.2d 634 (1959).