The difference between Will and Shall in English

"Shall" vs. "Will": What's The Difference?

When to use Will and when to Shall in English?

Will and Shall are auxiliary verbs, and both words are modal verbs used to form the future tense in English. They can also express different meanings such as wish, intention, obligation, suggestion, question, etc. However, confusion often arises when choosing between Will and Shall, especially for those learning English as a second language. At the end of the article, test your knowledge in practice, a test of 10 questions – Shal or Will?

Rules for using Will and Shall in English

  1. Will and Shall are used to form the future tense in English (wish, intention, suggestions, etc.)
  2. “Will” is used for all persons (I, you, he/she/it, we, they).
  3. “Shall” is used only for the first person (I, we). In modern English, “shall” is rarely used, especially in the American version.

However, in modern English, this rule is often broken or ignored, especially in informal language. Most native speakers of English use Will to form the future tense in all persons and Shall – only to express formality or as an obsolete option. Example:

  • I will go to the cinema tomorrow. (more common option)
  • You shall see him soon. (a more formal or outdated version)

In addition to the future tense, Will and Shall can express other meanings, depending on the context and intonation.

What you need to know about Will in English

Will” is used to express an intention, action or event that is likely to happen in the future. Most often for future actions in everyday life.


  • She will arrive at 8 PM.
  • I will visit my grandparents next weekend.
  • I will have a cup of tea, please.
  • We will win this game.

Also, “will” is often used to express a promise, offer, or question.


  • I will help you with your homework.
  • Will you marry me?
  • Will you please be quiet?

In negative sentences, the form “will not” is shortened to “won’t”.


  • They won’t be late for the meeting.
  • I will not tolerate this.

What you need to know about Shall in English

Shall” is often used to express intentions, suggestions or questions in the first person singular and plural.


  • Shall we go to the movies tonight?
  • Shall we dance?
  • Shall I call you later?

In some cases, “shall” is used to express an obligation or recommendation.


  • You shall not pass this point without permission.
  • You shall obey the law.
  • He shall regret this.

“Shall” is used for formal suggestions, often in a polite context.


  • Shall I assist you with your coat?

Knowledge test for understanding the use of Will and Shall

____ we dance at the wedding?

We ____ leave for the trip early in the morning.

She ____ not be happy to hear the news.

He promised that he ____ help us with the project.

____ we meet at the usual place for lunch?

____ I carry your bag for you?

I think it ____ rain later this evening.

____ I open the window for some fresh air?

They ____ be arriving at the airport at 3 PM.

In modern English, “will” is used in most cases to express future events, intentions, promises, and proposals in all persons. “Shall” remains used, mainly in British English, to express intentions, suggestions and questions in the first person singular and plural, or to express obligations, recommendations and threats. With these differences in mind, one can use “will” for most situations, including informal conversations, written communications, and general expressions of the future, while “shall” is used for formal, official, or obligations and proposals in the appropriate context.

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