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!

A photo a day, argentina, Buenos Aires

A photo a day from BA: The verdulería.

A series of photos from BA.

The verdulería is pretty central to life in Buenos Aires.  In the UK, greengrocers have decreased in numbers due to the rise of supermarkets. In Argentina, however, they can be found with regularity on the streets of the city. The photos below were taken in a large grocery at the intersection of the streets Corrientes and Ayacucho.


Self-service, or ‘auto-servicio’, is still not terribly common in Buenos Aires – outside of the supermarkets (although you can certainly find them). This means that you do have to be assertive to make sure you don’t get fobbed off with the softest aubergine, something that doesn’t come easily to me.

At this particular grocers, we arrived and there was a queue of around ten people waiting to be served. The attendants inside were busily weighing vegetables and totting up their sums, along with regular shouts of ‘quien sigue!’ (‘who’s next!’). As you can see, there are lots of vegetables all piled up in their crates; from zapallitos (a type of pumpkin/zucchini), aubergine (eggplant), ridiculously large avocados and passionfruit, and lots of celery, amongst others.

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