English has many grammatical forms for professional written and spoken communication. There are many forms available; at times, even native speakers of English also miss out on the critical elements of English grammar.
One such category of grammar is the modal verb. As the name suggests, it is a category of the verb which is utilized to indicate modality. Modal verbs are used for various purposes. One such goal is to denote certainty if it is possible or impossible.
Another primary purpose is to ask for permission and make requests and offers. Incidentally, modal verbs are generally used to indicate any likelihood, ability, order, suggestions, advice, or obligation in a sentence.
A few modal verbs are Will, Shall, Must, and Can. When used in the proper context, these modal verbs make the statement clear and grammatically correct. There is always a dilemma lingering around the use of modal verbs—especially the modal verb, Shall.
It is to be understood that when a first-person pronoun is used in the statement to indicate future actions, it is correct to use Shall and not Will.
- I shall do it
- We shall travel tomorrow.
However, using Shall and Shall be in English sentences has ambiguity. Ambiguity in meaning, intent, and concreteness of what is being said.
- “Shall” is a modal verb used to express future actions or intentions, while “shall be” is a future tense construction emphasizing the state of being or existence.
- In legal or formal contexts, “shall” can indicate a requirement or obligation, while “shall be” can emphasize an inevitable outcome or consequence.
- “Shall” is more common in British English, while its usage has significantly decreased in American English in favor of “will” or “will be.”
Shall vs Shall Be
The term ‘shall’ is used to define actions related to the future. It can be used to make a decision. For example, I shall go shopping tomorrow means the person has made a decision to go shopping tomorrow. The term ‘shall be’ is used to define the state of being. It can be used to request for something. This term can also be used when a person has doubts about the final decision.
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|Parameter of Comparison||Shall||Shall be|
|Tense Forms||‘Shall’ is the modal verb used to indicate the future and consistently features in the future tense.||‘Shall be is in Future continuous form|
|Decision Statements||The usage of ‘Shall’ gives a decision in the statement.||‘Shall be’ has doubts about the decisions made|
|Permission Statements||The usage of ‘Shall’ in taking permission is the correct grammatical form.||The usage of ‘Shall be’ will make the statement more of a request than permission.|
|Question Forms||The usage of ‘Shall’ in raising questions with the first person singular or plural is the correct form of grammatical use.||The usage of ‘Shall be’ in raising questions with the first person singular or plural is the correct form but not a decisive form.|
|Concreteness||The sentences using ‘shall’ shall be concrete in determination.||The sentences using ‘shall be’ have an element of doubt and are not concrete in determination.|
When to Use Shall?
Shall is a modal verb used to indicate actions in the future. It means the future tense.
- Traditional English grammar strongly recommends using Shall as the modal verb when the first-person pronoun is used in the sentences.
- I shall eat bananas tomorrow.
- We shall go to Church in the evening.
In both sentences, the word Shall is used after the first-person pronoun. Both the sentences above are in the simple future tense.
II. Shall can be used to indicate determination and obligation also. It can be used with second or third persons’ singular or plural forms
- You shall attend the meeting (Determination)
- Friends shall provide accommodation for us (Obligation)
III. Shall can also be used as a question with first-person singular or plural
- Shall I do it?
- Shall we go to the movie tomorrow?
The modal verb “Shall” can be used in contexts other than those mentioned above.
- Shall is the right word to indicate predictions in the statements when first person singular or plural is used.
- We shall need another car to accommodate 3 others.
- I shall require a raincoat once I come there.
II. Shall can also be used to confirm decisions in the sentences.
- I shall take the red nail polish
- We shall adapt ourselves.
III. On giving offers, ‘Shall’ can be used in specific contexts as mentioned below
- I shall get the plates for you.
- We shall arrange accommodation for our relatives.
When to Use Shall Be?
‘Shall be’ is a term that indicates the future action in a statement. However, it is in the future continuous form.
‘Shall be is a phrase made that mentions the future action that will be taking place.
The usage of ‘Shall be’ has an element of doubt in the statement’s context.
- Shall I go there?
- Shall we be reaching San Francisco by 11.00
Both sentences above do not have a concrete result based on the context.
When statements are in continuous form, they tend to give such ambiguity.
‘Shall I be going there?’ – ideally takes a meaning, do you want me to go there? Or are you insisting on me going there? Or shall I stay back?
The same goes well with the second statement also.
Moreover, when ‘Shall be’ is used in a sentence, it buys a reason or quotes a sense that may be unsaid, making the statement uncertain. This is also because of the future continuous tense.
- We shall be doing that.
- I shall be going there.
When analyzing the above two sentences, ‘We shall be doing that’ – When? Once ‘something’ is completed ( ‘something’ becomes unsaid, as the usage of ‘Shall be’ does not make a concrete statement in its context of it.
Main Differences Between Shall and Shall Be
- The main difference between Shall and Shall is its tense. The modal verb shall indicate the future, which is in Simple Future tense, while Shall be is in Simple Future Continuous Tense.
- The usage of the modal verb asserts a situation decisively, while statements with ‘Shall be’ has doubts involved in them.
E.g. I shall do it/ I shall be doing it.
‘I shall do it is direct and decisive, while ‘I shall be doing it has not got any decision; it is just a statement saying that ‘I am the person who is going to do that
or in the other way, ‘I shall be doing it’ can be seen as – ‘I shall be doing it — BUT… something has to happen.
- On taking permission, ‘Shall’ is the right word, wherein ‘Shall be’ brings the element of doubt in taking permission.
- The questions asked using ‘Shall’ make it correct in the grammatical form, while the question asked with ‘Shall be’ brings indecisiveness in the formation of the question.
- Shall I do it?/ Shall I be doing it?
- ‘Shall I do it?’ asks a concrete question, while ‘Shall I be doing it?’ is not.
5. The determining factor of the statements using ‘Shall’ is concrete, while ‘Shall be’ is not.
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Emma Smith holds an MA degree in English from Irvine Valley College. She has been a Journalist since 2002, writing articles on the English language, Sports, and Law. Read more about me on her bio page.