Shall and Will

What is the difference between shall and will?

'Shall' and ' will' have the same meaning and are used to refer to the simple future. Note that 'shall' is not used often in modern English especially in American English.

Here is how 'shall' and 'will'are used:

1. will is used with all persons

I, you, he, she, it, we, they will go there

2. shall is used with the first person singular and plural

I, we shall go

3. The short form of will and shall is 'll

I, you, he, she, it, we, they will or 'll call you

I, we shall or 'll call you

4. In the negative, the short forms of 'will not' and 'shall not' are won't and shan't respectively

I, you, he, she, it, we, they won't give up

I, we shan't give up

Uses of shall

It should be noted that shall is often used to make suggestions, offers or ask for advice. It is used in questions as follows:

  • Shall we stay or go out?
  • Shall we dance?
  • Shall I get his phone number if I meet him?
  • What shall I do to get rid of my acne?

As said above shall is used with first person singular and plural (I and we.) But there is a very special use of shall with other persons to make a promise, command or threat as noted below:

  • You shall not get in! (Command)
  • You shall pay for it. (Threat)
  • You shall get your money back soon. (Promise)

In American English shall is mainly used in formal or legal documents:

  • You shall abide by the law.
  • There shall be no trespassing on this property.
  • Students shall not enter this room.

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