Posted by: episystechpubs | May 12, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Shall versus Will

Shall versus Will

Yesterday we started the week with can versus may. Today, I have a tidbit for you on the verbs shall and will. This article is from the Oxford Dictionaries website, which is why they’ve spelled behavior differently.

Shall or Will?

The traditional rule in standard British English is that shall is used with first person pronouns (i.e., I and we) to form the future tense, while will is used with second and third person forms (i.e., you, he, she, it, they). For example:

I shall be late.

They will not have enough food.

However, when it comes to expressing a strong determination to do something, the roles are reversed: will is used with the first person, and shall with the second and third. For example:

I will not tolerate such behaviour.

You shall go to the ball!

In practice, though, the two words are used more or less interchangeably, and this is now an acceptable part of standard British and US English.

As far as questions go, the primary use of shall is with the first person (I, we), to make or ask for suggestions. For example:

· Shall we go to a movie today?

· Shall I wear a fake moustache to the fair?

· What shall we do if it rains?

· When shall we leave for the hockey game?

In the U.S., the word should is used more often than shall, especially in the last two examples.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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