Shall AND Will – Two of the most confused words while speaking in English

In the course, I have given the MOST simplistic way to use shall and will. But still I get emails or letters from course users, who ask about using these 2 words correctly.

For all of you, here is the explanation. But I’ll still stick to what I said in our Marathi 2 English SPeaking Home Study Course.

A careful examination  reveals the fact that shall and will are used not only with great frequency but in
nearly every case correctly.

In oral speech perhaps even the most careful business men do not always distinguish between shall and will, but they are careful to do so in written speech. No good business person would desire to employ a stenographer who does not know how to use shall and will correctly.

There is nothing in the practical usage of these words which you cannot easily learn. In this article you will find the explanations and illustrations made very easy.

When you wish merely to express future time, use shall with I and we. The word is correctly used in the following sentences:
1. We shall welcome future orders from you.
2. We shall be glad to hear from you in a few days that our terms are satisfactory.
3. I shall he pleased to meet your representative and talk the matter over with him.
4. I shall he delighted to see you.

If you wish to express a promise or to show that you are determined to do something, use will with / and we.

Thus ” I will ” is the natural and correct way to say, “ I  am willing.’ ” I promise,” or ” I have made up my mind.”

Note the correct use of will in these sentences:
1. Send the bookcase back, and we will refund your money.
2. We will extend your credit from thirty to sixty days.
3. If shipment has not already been made, we will see that the cabinet goes forward just as soon as possible.
4. The goods reached us in damaged condition, and unless you replace them we will place no more orders with your house.
5. I will send a tracer at once.

Do not say, ” I will he pleased to call at your office for a personal interview ” or “I will he glad to meet your cousin.”
In such sentences you are not making a promise or even expressing determination, for certainly nobody
would promise or express a determination to be pleased or to be glad.

Remember that the correct expressions are these: ” I shall he pleased ” and ” I shall he glad.”

In questions always use shall with I and we. Remember to say, ”Shall I? ” or ”Shall we?”
Note the following illustrations –
1. Shall I answer the telegram from the Company?
2. Shall we address the letters to the company or to you personally?

You have already learned that you should use shall with- I and we to express future time. With all other subjects, however, you should use will to express future time. The term ” all other subjects ” includes you, he, she, it, Manisha, people, etc.
Note carefully the use of will in the following sentences:
1. You will be pleased with these tires.
2. It will require three months to finish the course in business English.
3. The enclosed card when properly filled out will bring you our catalog.

If you wish to express determination that someone else shall do a thing, you should use shall instead of will with all subjects but I and we. A promise is expressed in the same way.

The meaning is usually very clear. Note carefully the following illustrations:
1. They shall not pass. (Determination.)
2. You shall have your orders in the future. (Promise.)
3. If he will return the wheel, he shall have an exact duplicate*. (Promise.)

In questions, when any subject other than I or we is used, choose the word that would occur in the answer.
In this case you would have to pause a moment to think what the answer would be; then the difficulty quickly disappears.

Note carefully the following illustrations:
1. Will you file these letters? I will. (Promise in the answer.)
2. Shall you welcome future orders from them? We shall welcome them.
3. If you do not finish your work, what excuse shall you give? I shall give none.

Should and would are, in general, used like shall and will, being the past tense forms of these verbs.

Would may also be used to express habitual action — as, ” The secretary would sit for hours at his desk.” Both should and would are frequently used by business men and others in so-called softened statements — as, ” I should advise an early settlement ” or “I should like to suggest a better plan of adjustment.”

Finally, should is often used to express duty or obligation — as, ” We believe that you should make a small payment at least each month.”

In clauses introduced by that, expressed or understood, when the subject is different from that in the principal statement, the same auxihary should be used that would be employed if the clause were made a separate sentence — for example,

” Harish says that I will find my new work interesting.”

Here will is the correct word, because if the clause were made an independent sentence, it would
be stated as follows: ” Harish said,” You will find your new work interesting.”

So now you know when to use shall and when to use will. Now go & speak with somebody in English.

As I said, do not get overwhelmed with this grammar part. But if you are already confident about it, then be sure to read other articles in this series.

Rajesh Gurule