Shall and Will

I’ve received a number of questions about the proper use of shall and will. Unfortunately, this issue is so difficult and convoluted that crafting an answer would take more time than I have at the moment. I usually go with my intuition, realizing that since I live in the United States I’ll get away with making a mistake every now and then, as Americans seem to be a lot more relaxed about this rule than the British are.

For those of you who are more concerned about this rule than I am, you may want to read the entries in the following two usage books:

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4 Responses to Shall and Will

  1. Mark Spalding says:

    When I was in school I didn’t see the shall/will issue as difficult. We had to learn a rhyme:
    “I” and “we” take “shall” and “should,”
    All the rest take “will” and “would.”
    To reverse this prescribed order was to add emphasis. The usual order “I shall see you tomorrow” was a mere statement of fact; the reverse order, “I will see you tomorrow,” implied will or desire, suggesting that I actually looked forward to the fact.

  2. Thank you, Mark, for your succinct explanation! Makes sense to me.

  3. Paul Kelly says:

    “I shall drown, no one will save me” = HELP!
    versus
    “I will drown, no one shall save me” = Go away, i’m doing this deliberately

  4. ivo says:

    While studying English, I was told that the usage of “Shall” is preferable in case of suggestion or consideration.. For example: “Shall we hit the bank?”