Shall Be vs Should Be: Difference and Comparison

English grammar is a versatile topic. The grammar has been formed with many rules, terms, and phrases to make communication more precise. Using the right words and tenses helps the receiver unerringly comprehend the message you want to convey.

To make sure that you communicate your thought and ideas, you should use the appropriate words and terms.

Key Takeaways

  1. “Shall be” and “should be” are both used to express obligation or necessity, but “shall be” is more formal and is used to indicate a requirement or a legal obligation.
  2. “Should be” is used to express a recommendation or an expectation and is less formal than “shall be”.
  3. “Should be” is used to suggest a course of action, while “shall be” indicates a specific requirement that must be met.

Shall Be vs Should Be

The difference between shall be and should be their tense. Shall be is used in the future continuous tense. When be is used along with shall, it explains and conveys the uncertainty and the ambiguity involved in the sentences, whereas should be doesn’t convey doubt. Instead, it gives a proper order or a concrete meaning.

Shall Be vs Should Be
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Shall be, when used in a sentence, expresses the uncertainty. For example, We shall be playing the piano. This sentence conveys more than a single meaning.

It implies the following suggestions: he might be playing the piano, he might not be playing the piano, or there is some uncertainty in him playing the piano.

Should be is used to pass orders or command someone. For example, You should be writing your test honestly. This conveys a single, strong statement or fact that the students should not cheat or involve in any malpractice.

Comparison Table

Parameters Of ComparisonShall BeShould Be
Tense‘Shall be’ is used in the future tense, especially in the future continuous tense.    It is used in the present participle tense.
Decision making ‘Shall be’ suggests ambiguity, doubts, and uncertainty. The usage of ‘should be‘ conveys the concrete meaning, condition, or, more likely, order.
Permission‘Shall be ‘ is used to request, where the person poses the question with doubts and uncertainty, and it sounds like a polite request.   ‘Should be ‘ is instead used to confirm something. It might sound impolite.
Interrogation It is used to pose questions to confirm other possibilities. For example, will the students use a pencil to write the test?       It is used to confirm information that does not have multiple possibilities. For example, should the students use a pencil to write the test?
Certainty‘Shall be ‘does not express certainty when used in sentences.   ‘Should be ‘ when used in a sentence conveys sheer certainty.

What is Shall Be?

When ‘shall be’ is used in a sentence, it represents the action that will take place in the future. It is used to talk about the actions in the future continuous tense. For example,

1. I shall be singing at the concert next week. 

2. They shall be cooking breakfast by then.

3. Riya shall be finishing her test by then. 

Shall be’ depicts the future actions that will be happening later. It is also used to express when someone is unsure and also to express doubts. For instance,

1. Shall we start our journey?

2. We shall be submitting the report tomorrow.

3. Max shall be escaping from the prison if not guarded properly.

The above sentences do not have a single, concrete answer. Apart from doubt, they also explain the ambiguity in certain situations. The sentence, Shall we be starting our journey? Takes the meaning, should we start our journey? Or should we not start our journey yet? Do you insist on starting the journey?

The phrase conveys the uncertainty and the possibility of more than one answer or reason for the posed question. This is what the future continuous tense suggests. Thus, ‘shall be’ may not be used to give a sheer or a concrete meaning to the sentence in which it is said.

There is always some ambiguity.

What Should Be?

‘Should be’ is used in sentences to describe an event that must compulsorily occur or something that should be followed. It stresses the necessity and importance. It is used in the present participle tense. For example,

1. They should be eating vegetables for dinner.

2. You should be following the traffic rules while driving.

3. You should be bringing your assignments tomorrow.

Here the person who states this does not give the listeners any option. He/She strictly imposes on the listener to do it. It is like passing an order or commanding. This is used by a person of a higher authority or age to command their inferiors.

In interrogation, it is used to confirm a sentence or ask yes or no questions. For example,

1. Should Sasha be writing the exam?

2. Should we be playing cricket?

3. Should the boys be playing the match now?

These questions will have either yes or no answers and nothing else. The question is raised to confirm the only existing possibility. There is no ambiguity, doubt, or uncertainty.

It might sound impolite while ordering or commanding, and it should be used carefully only in the appropriate situations and to the right person.

Main Differences Between Shall Be and Should Be

  1. Shall Be is used in the future continuous tense in sentences. Should Be is used in the present participle tense in sentences.
  2. Shall Be indicates doubts, ambiguity, and uncertainty in sentences. Should Be indicates orders and commands.
  3. Shall Be is used to request, and it sounds polite and formal. Should Be sounds impolite.
  4. Shall Be is used in sentences to confirm multiple possibilities and certainties in interrogative sentences. Should Be is used to raise yes or no type of questions.
  5. Shall Be conveys uncertainty. Should Be conveys certainty and strictness.
Difference Between Shall Be and Should Be
References
  1. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783110810301.115/html
  2. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783110810301.115/htmlhttps://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.2307/3587627

Last Updated : 11 June, 2023

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