The use of in English verbs will and shall: rule

The use of the will and shall verbs, as well as their derivatives would and should, follows strict rules. This raises almost no questions for English learners. Despite this, the main source of problems is the fact that before the rules of the will and in English were significantly different from those used now. That is why in fiction and in oral speech there are different, and sometimes even contradictory examples. In order to fully address the problem of the use of will and, the rule must be studied in two situations: earlier and now.

Before: use will

Outdated rules

Will is an auxiliary verb used in future forms of the English language. In total, there are four types of English forms for describing actions in the future tense. Here they are:

Timeline form Example Transfer
Future Simple is a simple future tense. They will come to the meeting. They will come to the meeting.
Future Continuous - long future time. She will be working the whole day. She will work all day.
Future Perfect - perfect future tense. You will have finished this work. You finish this job before he comes.
Future Perfect Continuous - perfect long future time. His mother will return home. He will clean up his room before his mother returns home.

Previously, there was a rule: will and should be used in different situations depending on the subject. Namely, will should be used with all variants of the subject, except for the first person singular and plural: I and we.

Before: use of shall

As mentioned earlier, shall be used in conjunction with the pronouns I and we. For example:

  • We'll go to your shop. “We’ll go to this store to buy some school supplies.”
  • I am doing this. - I will do this job to get a good grade in school.

No such examples can be found nowadays in oral everyday speech or in journalism, but there are enough of them in fiction to confuse a novice who is new to the old and new rules of shall and will.

Modern rules: will "ousted" shall

Modern rules

Currently, the verb shall almost not be used. Communicating with a native speaker or reading modern literature or journalism, an English learner will easily find similar examples of the use of the verb will instead of outdated shall:

Example Transfer
I will definitely come to your birthday party tomorrow. I will definitely come to the party in honor of your birthday tomorrow.
You will be happy next week. We will be happy to meet you and your friends next week.
Will enter my room. I will finish this job before my mom enters my room.
Our friends will come.

We will finish cooking before our friends come.

He said that I would manage to do this job.

He said that I can do this job.

As can be seen from the examples, now the verb will is actively used with the pronouns I and we along with all the others.

Verb shall in the meaning of "should"

Advice or recommendation: "should"

The only function that has been preserved for the verb “shall” and its derivative form “should” is the expression of recommendation, advice, resolution (in questions). In practice, this can be formulated as follows:

Example Transfer
Shall I do it? Should I do this?
Shall we forgive him after all that he has done? Should we forgive him after all he has done?
You will lose everything you have. You should find a job and start making money, otherwise your wife will leave you and you will lose everything you have.
I’m not going to pay for it. This work was done in vain (this work should not have been done), because now no one is going to pay for it.

As can be seen from the proposed examples, the verb shall radically changed its meaning, and no longer expresses the future tense, but is still actively used in a completely different context.

Summing up

The verbs will and shall be fairly simple and do not cause difficulties in use. The only thing you should pay attention to is the differences between the modern rules of colloquial speech and the outdated rules characteristic of fiction. However, having learned to distinguish and understand both grammatical models, anyone learning English can easily begin to actively use these verbs in oral and written language, avoiding grammatical errors.

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