Difference Between Will and Shall (With Table)

Note: To see the current Epic Deals on Amazon, Click Here

It is important to have a basic knowledge of the English language to communicate in a majority of spaces. When it comes to the future in English, there are several forms to use. It generally includes, be going to, will, present continuous, and shall. 

Due to the simple structure of “will” and “shall,” they both are easiest to use in many ways. They both are modal auxiliary verbs that are generally confused with each other and often misused. This article focuses on both these verbs to clear out the confusion. 

Will vs Shall 

The main difference between a will and shall is their etymology. The origin of “will” is from the word “Willa,” which means voluntary compliance. On the other hand, the origin of “shall” is from the word “sculan,” which means intense compliance or force.  

“Will” is the most common and basic form used to express the future. Because for all the subjects it is same that’s why its structure is easy. There is no need to change anything related to the work. It is used with the person forms of third and second such as he, they, you, it, she.  

In the past, the usage of “shall” is often an alternative to “will” and examples can be found in many works. When it comes to modern English, we generally prefer “will” for negative and affirmative sentences. Especially in British English, “shall” is used to form questions with “we” and “I”. 

Comparison Table Between Will and Shall 

Parameters of Comparison WillShall
InterpretationIt is used in sentences to show willingness, desire or to talk or predict future events. In specific circumstances, it is used in place of well. It is generally used to make questions. 
Modern EnglishCommonUncommon
Usage Request and ordersOffers and suggestion
ExampleThe result will be declared in twenty-two days. Shall we have lunch tonight? 

What is Will? 

The roots of the verb “will” can be traced from old English Willan which means to wish or want. As a journal rule, “will” is used for negative and affirmative sentences about the future. It is used for requests too.  

When it comes to the helping verb, the will is one of them. It is used to indicate tense with the usage of the main verb. It expresses about the future time events or forecasting something. It is generally used to show the desire, capacity, intention, or habit of a person.  

“Will” used for the following situations:  

  1. To express (something that you wish, intend, or capable of doing):
    •  I will give you the details by Monday morning.
    • I will give you money to invest in stocks. 
  2. To give orders to command:
    • Will you keep quiet?
    • Will you stop wasting papers?  
  3. To request:
    • Will you allow me to dance with him?
    • Will you pass the water bottle?  
  4. To indicate habit (it is used with a third person): 
    • Alex will rock the dance floor. 
  5. To discuss (what is about to happen, especially for those events which are planned or quite sure about): 
    • We will go to Hong Kong tomorrow. 
    • She will report to Sam in the next 20 minutes. 

What is Shall? 

If we talk about a future expectation, event, and plan, with the first person (I and we) then shall be used instead of using the word will. Further, when it comes to strong intention like instruction, obligation, or promise, then also shall replace will with second and third person.  

The usage of shall is still used in bureaucratic documents, mainly documents written by lawyers. The origin of this verb is strong old English sceal. The verb Shall’s in other Germanic languages consists of German Soll, Old Norse Skal, and Dutch zal.  

“Shall” Is used for the following situations:  

  1. To make suggestions:  
    • What shall we do after our lunch get to finish?  
    • Who shall we invite to the wedding anniversary?  
  2. To make an offer:  
    • Where shall I pick you from? outside your office?  
    • Shall I water your flowers while you are away?  
  3. To make a promise: 
    • He shall not long then do drink a glass of water while you wait.  
    • To solve this issue, we shall do everything from our side.  
  4. To express formal obligations: 
    • The tenant shall pay the agreed amount on the last day of every month.  
    • The accused shall appear in High Court again on 14th October.  
  5. To describe the future formally: 
    • Due to the marathon, access shall be limited today to the city center.  
    • With the help of an independent body, a test shall be carried out. 

Main Differences Between Will and Shall 

  1. The etymology of both is also different. The origin of “will” is from the word “Willa,” which means voluntary compliance. But the origin of “shall” is from the word “sculan,” which means intense compliance or force.  
  2. When it comes to grammar rules of British, will is used with third- and second-person form, while shall is only used with the first-person form according to rules of British grammar.  
  3. “Will” Is used when the subjects are not “I” or “we.” On the other hand, “shall” is used when the subjects are “I” or “we.”  
  4. When the sentence indicates strong future assertion or intention, such as command, promise, and determination, will is used with the first person but shall be used for the third and second person.  
  5. When it comes to questioning introduction, they have a vital distinction in the meaning. Will is used to indicating future tense strongly, whereas shall offers a polite suggestion and asks for preference. 


It can be concluded that “will” and “shall” are two of the modal auxiliary verbs which generally confuse people. They both are used to depict the future. In modern English, the word will is commonly used, while shall is used rarely.  

The origin of “will” is from the word “Willa,” which means voluntary compliance. On the other hand, the origin of “shall” is from the word “sculan,” which means intense compliance or force. Will is less polite in usage as compared to shall. The verb “will” is used in making requests and orders. On the flip side, “shall” is used to make offers and suggestions. 


  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/s15327817la0101_2
  2. https://www.ceeol.com/search/article-detail?id=583956

2D vs 3D