Shall vs Will - Regular English Lessons

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In this lesson we will learn the correct uses of ‘shall’ and ‘will’.


The words ‘shall’ and ‘will’ are used to refer to future actions or events.

Anna: Hello, everybody. Today we’ll talk about ‘shall’ and ‘will’. They are used when talking about the future.

Joe: That’s right, Anna. The modal verb ‘shall’ is rarely used, except in fixed expressions; usually in questions like ‘shall we dance?’, ‘shall I pick you up?’, or ‘shall we leave?’.

Anna: And we also use ‘shall’ when we talk about something we really believe we should do, and think it is our responsibility. It is a feeling that comes from the speaker.

Joe: Yes. A politician might say: ‘If I am elected, I shall end hunger in our country’. He believes he can, and also that it is his responsibility to do so.

Anna: Correct. It can also be like a promise to yourself. For example, if my dream is to visit France, I could say ‘I shall visit France before I die’.

Joe: Yes. And because the feeling comes from the speaker, we rarely see ‘shall’ used with second and third persons.

Anna: You’re absolutely right, Joe. But you will see that in the Bible, for example. There are the commandments that came from God, and He says ‘You shall not kill’; He can do that because he’s God.

Joe: Well, Anna, my mom isn’t God, but she tells me: ‘Joe, you shall study two hours every day after school if you want to go to Australia at the end of the year!’.

Anna: Well, Joe, you have to admit that’s not so bad…

Joe: I guess you’re right. And I’ll do it. I shall dedicate myself to my studies.

Anna: That’s a good boy. And since you used ‘will’, let’s talk about this modal verb a little. ‘I will do it’ means that this is inevitable. When a speaker uses ‘will’ he believes something is sure to happen. In other words, he is 100% certain of what he’s saying.

Joe: Ok. So, if I say ‘It will rain today’, I’m absolutely sure it will.

Anna: That’s right. You could be wrong, but at the moment you say ‘will’, you have no doubt it will rain.

Joe: It can also mean that you promise to do something. For example, ‘I will lend you the money’.

Anna: And, it can simply refer to a future moment, like ‘Tomorrow, I’ll visit my mom’.

Joe: And it can mean that you’re ready or prepared to do something. If the phone rings or I hear the doorbell, I say ‘I’ll get it’.

Anna: Great!! Let’s see some conversations for more examples.

Conversation 1:

Max: Where is Samir? We need him for the presentation!

Reggie: Don’t worry. He will be here.

Max: Shall I call him?

Reggie: If he’s driving, he won’t answer his cell.

Max: Yeah, but I will go nuts if I don’t do something.

Reggie: You’ll have a heart attack if you don’t calm down.

Max: Right. In the future, I shall prepare all the presentations.

Conversation 2:

Betty: I’m going to call you next time we go to the beach house.

Max: You always say that, but you never call…

Betty: I will call! I promise!

Max: Do you know when you’ll go back there?

Betty: No. We’ll try to go next holiday.

Max: Oh, listen! Do you remember that song?

Betty: Yes! It always reminds me of you!

Max: Shall we dance?

Betty: I’d love to.

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