argentina, English, writing

We shall do this, but you will do that.

A diversion into English grammar today. My husband, who is Argentinian, asked me about the usage of ‘shall’ and ‘will’.

Generally, shall and will are used to express something that happens in the future. For example,

I shall go to the cinema.

She will go to the cinema.

We shall go to the cinema.

They will go to the cinema.

So, the rule is that I and we take shall; whereas, she/he/it and they take will. Conversely, when you want to be forceful, i.e., use the imperative, reverse the usage. For example,

I will not kill!

She shall not kill!

We will not kill!

They shall not kill!

Furthermore, when using the negative, the following contractions are used.

‘Shan’t’ for ‘shall not’.

‘Won’t’ for ‘will not’.

Moreover, for the conditional, the same rules are used for ‘would’ and ‘should’.

However, in modern usage, will (and would), are pretty consistently used in speech rather than shall (and should). I imagine that this is because, in speech, the British use the contracted forms ‘I’ll’, ‘she’ll’, and ‘we’ll’, leading to a loss in distinction between shall and will.

In conclusion, will people understand you if you mix will and shall? Certainly, they will!

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