Shall

shall

Verb Forms

shall not | shan’t 

BrE /ʃɑːnt/

NAmE /ʃænt/

Past Simple = should 

BrE strong form /ʃʊd/

NAmE strong form /ʃʊd/

should not | shouldn’t

1 – used with I and we for talking about or predicting the future

• This time next week I shall be in Scotland.
• We shan’t be gone long.
• I said that I should be pleased to help.

2 – used in questions with I and we for making offers or suggestions or asking advice

• Shall I send you the book?
• 
What shall we do this weekend?
• 
Let’s look at it again, shall we?

3 – used to show that you are determined, or to give an order or instruction

• He is determined that you shall succeed.

• Candidates shall remain in their seats until all the papers have been collected.

Grammar Point

shall / will

• In modern English the traditional difference between shall and will has almost disappeared, and shall is not used very much at all, especially in North American EnglishShall is now only used with I and we, and often sounds formal and old-fashioned. People are more likely to say:I’ll (= I will) be late and‘You’ll (= you will) apologize immediately.’ ‘No I won’t!’

• In British English shall is still used with I and we in questions or when you want to make a suggestion or an offer:What shall I wear to the party? Shall we order some coffee? I’ll drive, shall I?

Express Yourself

Offering to do something

There are various ways of offering and accepting help: 

• Would you like me to help you with that?
• Can I give you a hand?
• Can I help you with that?
• 
Shall I carry that for you? (British English or formal, North American English)
• 
Would it help if I spoke to Julie before you call her?
• 
Let me take your bag.
• 
If there’s anything I can do (to help), let me know.

Responses:

• That’s very kind/​nice/​generous/​thoughtful of you.
Thank you.
It’s all right, thank you. I can manage/​do it.
• 
Thanks. That would be very helpful.

Grammar Point

modal verbs

• The modal verbs are cancouldmaymightmustought toshallshouldwill and wouldDareneedhave to and used to also share some of the features of modal verbs.

• Modal verbs have only one form. They have no -ing or -ed forms and do not add -s to the 3rd person singular form:He can speak three languages. She will try and visit tomorrow.

• Modal verbs are followed by the infinitive of another verb without to. The exceptions are ought tohave to and used to:You must find a job. You ought to stop smoking. I used to smoke but I gave up two years ago.

• Questions are formed without do/does in the present, or did in the past:Can I invite Mary? Should I have invited Mary?

• Negative sentences are formed with not or the short form -n’t and do not use do/does or did.

P.S.: You will find more help with how to use modal verbs at the dictionary entries for each verb.

Word Origin

Old English sceal, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zal and German soll, from a base meaning ‘owe’.

© Oxford University Press 2017

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