The family of shear flows comprising the jet, wake, and the mixing layer are subjected to perturbations in an inviscid incompressible fluid. By modeling the basic mean flows as parallel with piecewise linear variations for the velocities, complete and general solutions to the linearized equations of motion can be obtained in closed form as functions of all space variables and time when posed as an initial value problem. The results show that there is a continuous as well as the discrete spectrum that is more familiar in stability theory and therefore there can be both algebraic and exponential growth of disturbances in time. These bases make it feasible to consider control of such flows. To this end, the possibility of enhancing the disturbances in the mixing layer and delaying the onset in the jet and wake is investigated. It is found that growth of perturbations can be delayed to a considerable degree for the jet and the wake but, by comparison, cannot be enhanced in the mixing layer. By using moving coordinates, a method for demonstrating the predominant early and long time behavior of disturbances in these flows is given for continuous velocity profiles. It is shown that the early time transients are always algebraic whereas the asymptotic limit is that of an exponential normal mode. Numerical treatment of the new governing equations confirm the conclusions reached by use of the piecewise linear basic models. Although not pursued here, feedback mechanisms designed for control of the flow could be devised using the results of this work.