Question

What is the correct use of "shall" and "will"?

Can you please give me some examples, and explain how to use?

Answers

7

Both are simple future tense forms but 'shall' is generally more old fashioned and is being used less and less over time. Shall cannot really be used with questions:

"Shall you go to the shop?" Wrong

"Will you go to the shop?" Correct

'Will' is used (e.g I will, ..will you?) as a future tense when you make a quick decision NOT a long term plan:

"I'll (I will) shut the window now" Correct

"I'm going to shut the window now" Wrong

"I'm going to go on holiday to Italy in July" Correct

"I'll go on holiday to Italy in July" Wrong

NOT ALL NATIVE SPEAKERS WILL FOLLOW THESE RULES.

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1

Interesting that Richard Detwiler's SE Pennsylvania teaching in the 50s and 60s produced almost precisely the same nuanced usage of "will" and "shall" as my upbringing in Shropshire, England, in the 1970s and 80s. The one difference, perhaps, being that I would not hesitate to use "shan't". It's very much part of my own current usage (and of many around me), in some contexts interchangeably with "won't", but also as a means of couching in a negative something which might sound brutal or rude in the positive: "I shan't be sorry to see him go", instead of "I'll be glad to see him go".

Emily's also right of course to note that "Shall" as a way of forming a question, is typically an invitation for the addressee to confirm, or not, a proposed action.

It's a truism to observe that language evolves. And that therefore reference to "rules" is somewhat unhelpful. These are precisely the sorts of areas of language for which one needs a feel, or an attuned ear, and it tends to be at these points that even the most fluent non-native speakers can be distinguished from native speakers.

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1

Here's a good thing to know: In America, nobody generally uses "shall" unless they're being sarcastic. You don't really use "will" either, it sounds awkward. The best way to go about saying something such as "shall we go to the market?" would be to use other wording. Instead you should say "are we going to go to the market?" or "Do you want to go to the market?" depending on the context. You might hear someone say "shall" if they're from Europe, though.

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1

As a child in school in the late 1950s and early 1960s (in southeastern Pennsylvania) we learned that:

1st person- I and we use shall for normal future expressions

2nd and 3rd persons- you, he, she, they, use will for normal future expressions

Each uses the other (will or shall) to express emphasis or obligation in the future.

I shall go tomorrow. - Just a routine mention of my plans for tomorrow.

I will go tomorrow. - I definitely, emphatically promise to go tomorrow.

You will go tomorrow. - Just a mention of your plans for tomorrow.

You shall go tomorrow.- Almost the same as You must go tomorrow. You are emphatically going to go; you have no choice.

In actual practice: In informal speech we almost always use the contractions

I'll, we'll, you'll, etc., and which is the same for will and shall, so the subtle difference was basically ignored.

Won't is universal; shan't is nonexistent in current speech.

It's o.k. to know about the old will vs. shall, won't vs. shan't differences for the times you might encounter them in literature, but not necessary to know or acquire for contemporary spoken and written language.

Shall is used in my dialect, however, very often with I and we, when we are asking for advice or suggestions about what to do.

Shall we go? is a very common and normal way to ask for advice about going or to propose that we go.

What shall I do? Shall I ____ ? Are very common and every day ways to ask for suggestions, advice, or even permission. If I ask you "Shall I eat this?", I'm not asking you what you think will happen in the future; I'm asking you if you think I should or if you want me to eat this...

And in my American dialect, "I will go" and "I'm going to go" are always interchangeably equal, one almost never better than the other no matter what kind of near or far future is anticipated.

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1

Shall is only used in the first person: I / we shall - and is strictly speaking, more correct than I will

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soon I will "go", and "must" leave immediately for the airport so I don't miss the trip.


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0

I use shall in these types of situations:

Shall I close the window? =equals= Do you want me to close the window? OR Do you think it's a good idea for me to close the window?

Shall we dance? =equals= Do you think it is a good idea that we dance?

I will go. = I shall go.

(So when using the simple future "will" form, shall can replace will, no problem. It is not used commonly but the meaning is the same.)

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Both modal verbs are used to express intentions, but will also expresses willingness.

The difference is that you use "shall" only for first person."I shall", "We shall""Will" is more commonly used with all subjects.You can find more information about this verb modal here: http://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/shall

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