English has many grammatical forms imbibed in it for professional written and spoken communication. There are many forms available, at times, even the 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 purpose is to denote certainty if it is possible or impossible.
Another main purpose is to ask for permission, to make requests, and also offers. Incidentally, modal verbs are generally used to indicate any likelihood, ability, order, suggestions, advice, or an obligation in a sentence.
A few modal verbs are Will, Shall, Must, Can. These modal verbs, when used in the right context makes the statement clear and grammatically correct. There is always a dilemma lingering around the usage of modal verbs. Especially the use of the modal verb, Shall.
It is to be understood that when there is a first-person pronoun 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, the intent, and the concreteness of what is being said.
Shall vs Shall Be
The main difference between Shall and Shall be is the tense involved in it. The modal verb shall is used to indicate the future and it is in Simple Future tense while Shall be is Simple Future Continuous Tense.
Comparison Table Between Shall and Shall Be (in Tabular Form)
|Parameter of Comparison||Shall||Shall be|
|Tense Forms||‘Shall’ is the modal verb is used to indicate future and features in future tense always.||‘Shall be’ is in Future continuous form|
|Decision Statements||The usage of ‘Shall’ definitely gives a decision in the statement.||‘Shall be’ has doubts in 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 right form of grammatical usage.||The usage of ‘Shall be’ in raising questions with the first person singular or plural is the right form but not a decisive form.|
|Concreteness||The sentences using ‘shall’ shall be concrete in determination.||The sentences using ‘shall be’ has an element of doubt and not concrete in determination.|
When to Use Shall?
Shall is a modal verb used to indicate the actions in the future. It indicates 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 the 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 various contexts other than the above mentioned.
- Shall is the right word to be used to indicate predictions in the statements when first person singular or plural is used
- We shall need another car for accommodating 3 others.
- I shall require a raincoat once I come there.
II. Shall can also be used to confirming decisions in the sentences.
- I shall take the red nail polish
- We shall adapt ourselves.
III. On giving offers, ‘Shall’ can be used in certain 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 indicates the future action in a statement. However, it is in the future continuous form.
- I shall be going to the Church tomorrow.
- We shall be having our dinner by then.
‘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 context of the statement.
- Shall I be going there?
- Shall we be reaching San Francisco by 11.00
Both the sentences above do not have a concrete result based on the context.
When statements are in continuous forms tend to give such ambiguity in the statements.
‘Shall I be going there?’ – ideally takes a meaning, do you want me to go there? or are you insisting on me to go 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 reason which may be unsaid and it makes 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 such the usage of ‘Shall be’ not make a concrete statement on the context of it.
Main Differences Between Shall and Shall Be
- The main difference between Shall and Shall be is the tense involved in it. The modal verb shall is used to indicate the future and it is in Simple Future tense while Shall be is Simple Future Continuous Tense.
- The usage of the modal verb asserts a situation decisively while statements with ‘Shall be’ has doubts involved in it
For 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.
The ambiguity of ‘Shall’ and ‘Shall be’ highly relies on the tense form of the statements. Though technically they both function the same way in the sentences, the tense form makes the context sound a little different from the other.
‘Shall’ is less used in the English language these days. Not to forget that, usage of ‘Shall’ makes the English sound more professional and it is indeed recommended in the past. ‘Shall’ is the best modal verb for all aspects of modality; right from likelihood till advice, this word can be used in a variety of ways.
Changing the tense form shall change the meaning of it in certain sentences and care must be taken while doing so.