Uses of SHALL and WILL :
SHALL and WILL : Uses of SHALL and WILL
These (as the student has learnt already) are the two Auxiliary Verbs by means of which the Future Tense is formed in both Voices.
One of the most important aspects in English Grammar is to know when and where to use SHALL and when and where to use WILL.
It should be understood that there are three senses in which the Future Tense can be used.
(a) To express merely future time and nothing more.
(b) To combine future time with an implied command.
(c) To combine future time with an implied intention.
(a) Merely future time
When nothing but future time is intended – mere futurity without any idea of command or intention being mixed up with it - SHALL must be used for the First person and will for the Second and Third persons, as below.
1st Person : Singular : I shall go.
2nd Person : Singular : You will go.
3rd Person : Singular : He will go.
1st Person : Plural : We shall go.
2nd Person : Plural : You will go.
3rd Person : Plural : They will go.
An Implied Command, Promise or Threat :
Whenever we desire to express, not merely future time, but some command or promise or threat or determination in addition, SHALL is put for WILL in the Second and Third persons and WILL is put for SHALL in the First person.
1. You shall love your neighbour as thyself. (Command)
2. You shall receive your prize tomorrow. (Promise)
3. He shall not enter my house again. (Determination)
1. I'll reward her for her labours. (Promise)
2. I will dismiss you if you do that again. (Threat)
3. I'll never agree to her proposal. (Determination)
An Implied Intention
When the speaker wishes to express some intention of his own, then WILL is put for SHALL in the First person.
I will call on you today and I shall then say good-bye.
Here the first Verb denotes the intention of calling, while the second denotes merely future time.
Shall and Will in Interrogative sentences :
In Assertive sentences, merely future time is denoted by SHALL in the First person and by WILL in the Second and Third.
A command is denoted by SHALL in the Second and Third persons.
An intention is denoted by WILL in the First person.
In Interrogative sentences however, the change of situation from asserting a fact to asking a question modifies to some extent the uses of SHALL and WILL. All possible meanings
of SHALL and WILL, when they are used interrogatively, are shown in the following examples.
(a) Shall I see you tomorrow?
Here the SHALL merely inquires after something future.
(b) Shall I post that letter for you?
Here the SHALL asks what the other person wishes. Do you command or desire me to post that letter for you?
This is not used generally because WILL in the First person would imply intention and it
would be foolish to ask another person about one's own intentions. It may be used as a kind of echo of a previous will you?
1. Will you post this letter for me?
2. Will I? Of course I will.
Shall you return home today? This merely inquires about something future. (Here the SHALL cannot imply command, because it would be foolish to inquire of anyone whether he commands himself to do so and so.)
But often WILL YOU? is used for mere future.
1. Will you be thirty or thirty-one on your next birthday?
2. When will you know if you have passed your examination?
Will you Will you do me this favour?
Here the WILL denotes willingness or intention.
Are you willing or do you intend to do me this favour?
So it is used for asking a favour.
Shall he call for the doctor?
Here the SHALL implies a command.
Do you desire or command him to call for the doctor?
Will he be fourteen years old tomorrow?
Here the WILL merely inquires about something future.
Uses of SHALL and WILL :
Uses of SHALL and WILL To HOME PAGE
The Sentences Index