How to use SHALL, and the difference between SHALL and WILL | DailyStep English

How to use SHALL, and the difference between SHALL and WILL

Shall or Will - how to use themHello, I'm Jane at DailyStep English!

What is the difference between WILL and SHALL? How can we use SHALL correctly? 

How many meanings does SHALL have in English?  This free Audio Blog + Quiz  will teach you the difference between SHALL and WILL, and other meanings of SHALL that may be new to you! If you are new to DailyStep English, please register 5 Free Audio Lessons and to be on my mailing list.

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Shall (modal verb)
by Jane Lawson at DailyStep.com

This little word causes so much confusion among English students! I get so many emails asking me to explain it, and in class, English teachers all over the world explain it every day! Why is it so confusing? Well, one reason is that its usage has changed over the years.

Many people think that English still uses ‘I shall’ and ‘We shall’ to express the future, but this is rarely the case now, as you will see in this word study…

Meaning 1: In old-fashioned or very formal English, or when we want to sound dramatic, we use ‘shall’ instead of 'will' when the subject is 'I' or 'we' and when we are talking about the future. Most people use ‘will’ these days.

Examples:
1. I shall spend all day tomorrow studying English. (note: note this sounds more formal than saying ‘I will spend all day…’)

2. I shall never forget this beautiful day. (note: this sounds more dramatic than saying ‘I will never forget…’)

3. We shall contact you in the near future. (this sounds very formal)


Meaning 2: We use ‘shall’, with 'I' or 'we', when we make a suggestion.

Examples:
1. "I'm too hot. Shall I turn on the air conditioning?" “Yes, please.”

2. “Shall we go to the beach tomorrow?” “Yes, let’s do that!”

Meaning 3: We use ‘shall’ to say that something certainly will or must happen, or that you are determined that something will happen. After ‘I’ or ‘We’ with this meaning, we always emphasise the word ‘shall’.

Examples:
1. I shall be there to help you, so please don’t worry about it.

2. The company rules state that no employee shall smoke on the company premises.

Meaning 4: We sometimes use ‘shall’ when we are asking for advice.

Examples:
1. What shall I do about this problem? (note: in this sentence, we can also say, ‘What should I do about this problem.’ Using ‘shall’ rather than ‘should’ sounds as if you are ready to do something immediately. If you use ‘should’, it sounds more like a request for general advice. I will say more about the difference between ‘shall’ and ‘should’ in a future blog.)

2. How shall I break the news to him?

Meaning 5: We sometimes use ‘shall’ to express our strong intention.

Examples:
1. I shan’t (= shall not) tell anyone this secret.

2. I shall post this letter first thing in the morning.

3. We shall not let you down. (note: in these examples we could also use ‘will’ instead of ‘shall’, but using ‘shall’ indicates a stronger intention.)


Meaning 6:
In legal English, and the language of legal contracts, ‘shall’ means ‘has a legal duty to’.

Examples:
1. The seller shall provide accurate and clear information and shall disclose all material defects known or suspected prior to the sale. (note: this means that the seller has a duty to provide accurate and clear information…)

2. All employees shall inform the head of their department of their intention to leave at least thirty days prior to their desired leaving date. (note: this means that all employees have a duty to inform their boss thirty days before they want to leave.)


Now, write your own sentences using SHALL. Try to make them true to your own life if possible as this will help you to remember them better.

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What is the difference between SHALL and WILL - How to use WILL and SHALL correctly