Shall - English Grammar


English Grammar - Modal Verbs


Shall is not used very much nowadays and mostly in formal speech and some legal documents. Originally Shall was used instead of Will in first person (with I and We) when talking about the future. Now almost everyone uses Will with all subjects.

Nowadays, the most common use of shall in everyday English (although not in American English) is in questions that serve as offers or suggestions: "Shall I ...?" or "Shall we ...?"

Situations where Shall is still occasionally used:

1. Suggestion

Notice how each of these can easily be replaced by should.

2. Offers / Volunteering to do something

3. Instructions (asking for or giving)

4. Promises

5. Confirmation (Statement of Fact)

Notice how each of these can easily be replaced by will.

6. Formal written regulations and rules

This is very formal and normally avoided in spoken English. The passive is most often used in this situation.

The Negative of Shall

The negative of shall is shall not (= will not). The contraction of shall not is shan't (= won't). It is very rare to hear this used nowadays though you may find it written in older texts.

Shall in Question Tags

Shall is used in questions tags when the main verb is Let's.

Shall Summary Chart

The meaning and uses of Shall in English

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See our notes about other Modal Verbs.

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