Difference Between Will and Shall (With Examples and Table)

Will vs Shall

The key difference between Will and Shall lies in the fact that “Will” is used to show willingness for something and shall is used in questions.

Will can be either used for requests or orders while shall is used to give offers or suggestions, and it can also express assertion or strong intention.

Examples:

  1. I ‘will’ surely complete all the assignments.
  2. ‘Shall’ we go for dance?

Both verbs ‘shall’ and ‘will’ refer to the future. Although rarely used in contemporary American English, the verb shall is often used interchangeably in British English.

So does that make the two verb synonyms?

The answer is no. There are times when using the verb ‘will’ in a statement becomes more appropriate and there are times when the most fitting verb for statement is ‘shall.’

However, using ‘will ‘to express your future plans and expectations is the standard choice between the two.

will and shall usage
will and shall usage
 

Definition of Will

Will’ is a helping verb. It’s used in reference to the future to show desire, intention, capacity or habit. It’s also used to predict what will be happening or to forecast something.

Furthermore, “will” can be used to give orders or declare something.

Examples:

1) To discuss something or events that are about to happen, particularly those you’re sure of:

  • The bus will arrive at 10 am.
  • He will report to your office before the end of the day.
  • They will be traveling tomorrow morning.

2) To express something that you’re intending or wish to do.

  • I will pay my rent tomorrow.
  • I will submit my contribution before the end of the month.
  • I will make up to you for all the inconvenience caused.

3) To Request for Something

Here, Will is used at the beginning of a statement, which turns it into a question.

  • Will you iron the clothes for me?
  • Will you help me take this kid to school?
  • Will you honor your promise this time around?

4) To command or Give Orders

Will can also be used to issue strong orders.

  • Will, you shut up?
  • Will you behave yourself?

5) To express a habit when used in the third person.

  • She will mess it up. She’s has a habit of it.
  • She will divorce him too.
 

Definition of Shall

You use shall when you’re talking about your future plans, events, or expectations in the first persona.

You may also use it when you’re talking about strong intentions, obligations or when you’re giving out instructions in the second or third persona.

Examples:

1) To talk about the future.

  • I shall forgive you if you apologize.
  • I shall be hitting you every time you disrespect me.
  • We shall attend the event.

2) To give a suggestion or ask something

  • Shall we have mushrooms for dinner?
  • Shall we attend the party?
  • Who shall I send this letter to?

3) To indicate assurance or the certainty of something happening

  • They shall be at a wedding on Saturday.
  • They shall attend the meeting.
  • We shall meet and sort this out once and for all.

4) To offer someone something

  • Shall I serve you coffee?
  • Shall I shut the door?

5) Shall comes in handy when you want to sound more polite for a statement made in the first person

  • Shall we talk? (This sounds polite).
  • Will we talk? (This sounds commanding).

6) Shall is also common in legal statements, made in the third persona

  • Taxes shall be paid on time, in accordance with the policies set by the IRS.
will and shall usage
will and shall usage exercise

 

Comparison Table Between Will and Shall (in Tabular Form)

Parameters of ComparisonWillShall
Point of viewUsed in 2nd and 3rd person most of the timeUsed in 1st person most of the time
1st Person useUsed on first person to indicate determinationUsed in first person to indicate politeness
PolitenessLess politeMore Polite
CommonnessCommonly used in statementsRarely used in statements

Main Differences Between Will and Shall

  1. Will is used whenever someone wants to talk about their future actions, to predict something, or to convey an intention.
  2. Shall, on the other hand, is used whenever someone wants to talk about a planned future action. It may also be used when asking a question or when you wish to know something about a person.
  3. Shall is rarely used in America, but it’s very common among the British, most of whom just use the two verbs interchangeably.

 

Rules Governing the Use of Shall and Will

There are rules that dictate how you’re supposed to use shall and will in a sentence. For instance, when expressing simple futurity, you’re required to use shall after we or I and ‘will’ after everything else.

However, while expressing a command or determination, the rules demand that you use will after we or I and ‘shall’ after everything else.

Examples following the rules:

  1. We shall attend the funeral tonight ( for a simple statement).
  2. We will attend the funeral tonight (to show determination).
  3. The shall attend the funeral tonight(a command).
  4. They will attend the funeral tonight (just a simple statement).

As you can see, using shall while making a statement in the first persona makes you sound more polite.

However, when you use shall in the third persona, the statement comes off as commanding while using will makes it sound polite.

It’s to be however noted that these rules are nothing more than a brilliant invention that makes sense, but they do no depict the real message being conveyed by a careful speaker.

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In most cases, people just use will and shall interchangeably and it still sounds correct, despite bearing a different meaning.

For a native speaker, these rules are so natural. That makes it easy for them to remember them whenever they’re making a statement.


 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About Will and Shall

  1. How to Use Shall VS Will in Requirements?

    Shall and will are used to express an action that is to take place in the future.

    There are several differences between the two depends on the usage and intent of the person who is using them. Here you will find a list of all the differences between shall and will:

    a) Shall is used with the first person of pronoun. Example – I shall be going tomorrow.
    b) Will is used with the second and third person of pronoun. Example – He will go there tomorrow.
    c) Shall is used to denote the order in the tone. Example – You shall attend your class tomorrow.
    d) Will is used to show determination. Example – I will help him no matter what.
    e) Shall is also used to express assurance or a promise. Example – They shall be awarded for their outstanding performance.
    f) Will is used to show the intention of the speaker. Example – I will go to Mumbai next week.
    g) Shall is used to denote duty toward someone or something. Example – You shall look after your parents.
    h) Shall is also used when the speaker is uncertain whether he is going to take the action or not. Example – I shall go to Mumbai.

  2. Does Shall Mean Must?

    Shall may or may not mean a must. If the speaker is used in the context of command or duty, it means must.
    Example – You shall not take leave for tomorrow.
    Otherwise, Shall is used to denote confusion in the tone of the speaker. When a speaker is not sure of his own actions in the future, he uses shall.
    Example – I shall buy a new car next month.

  3. What Does Shall Mean Legally?

    There are different legal meanings of the word shall. Here is a list of all those meanings:

    a) In legal procedures, shall is used as an imperative command. It is used to indicate duty or obligation.
    Ex- The remaining dues shall be paid within 45 days.

    b) Shall is often interpreted as should by the court.
    Ex – All the evidence shall be submitted in 24 hours.

    c) Shall can be also used in the context of may when it succeeds a negative word like no or not.
    Ex- No contacts shall be signed without submitting the ID proofs first.

    d) In legal usage, will is often exchanged with shall.
    Ex- The jury shall have 30 minutes to come out with a verdict.

  4. What is a Synonym for Shall?

    Depends on the intent of the user, shall have the following synonyms:

    Obligation – have to, must
    Duty – ought to, need
    Suggestion – should

  5. Will be and Will Difference?

    There are two major differences between will be and will:
    • Both ‘will be’ and ‘will’ are used in future indefinite tense. Will be is used to denoting a passive voice.
    Example – It will be done on Friday. Will is used to denoting active voice, ex- They will leave tomorrow.
    • Will be is also used in the future continuous tense.
    Example – He will be studying in the morning.


 

Conclusion

There’s nothing complicated about how the two verbs differ from each other. If anything, their difference is all-natural for someone who’s used to speaking in English.

Will is the most common of the two verbs. It’s also the standard choice of the word whenever you’re making a statement in reference to the future.

But as we specified, there are situations where replacing will with shall become more appropriate, and this article details it all.


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between Will and Shall

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Will and Shall. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

will and shall
Word Cloud for Will and Shall

 

References

  1. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f3d3/c1ce0ed4be55e33d9e30fee6e996736d9b8e.pdf
  2. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/english-today/article/i-shall-and-i-will/EDE409372C337849E5A6B52D4A932834

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