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The main use of auxiliary verbs “will” or “shall” is to form the future tense.

Forming sentences with will/shall:

Subject + will/shall + infinitive

Negative sentences are formed by adding “not” after an auxiliary verb. Questions are formed by inversion. Usually the auxiliary verb “will” is used, but with the first singular person (I) and first plural person (we),  the form “shall” can be used instead.


The “will” form used for intention

Auxiliary verb “will” is used when we want to express intention.


I will drive you home = I intend to drive you home.


The form “shall” is used when there is no intention, for actions where the speaker’s wishes were not involved.


We shall know the results next week.

I shall arrive on Monday.


“Shall” is also used in the interrogative:

In questions we use  “let’s”

Let’s go to the museum. Shall we?

In suggestions

Shall we watch a movie?

In requests for orders or instructions

What shall I do with this document?

In speculations

Where shall we go for the next holiday?


Conveying a sense of importance or duty with “will” and “shall”

When something out of a sense of duty, is to happen in the future.   For the first person: I, we; we should use an auxiliary verb “will”.  For “you”, “he”, “she”, “it”, “they” – the auxiliary verb “shall” should be used.


will attend the meeting.

You shall attend the meeting.

He/she shall attend the meeting

We will attend the meeting.

They shall attend the meeting.


Usually determination is expressed by “will”, but sometimes to highlight something, less common “shall” is used (i.e. during public speaking).


We shall win this war.

We shall overcome any adversity.


“Shall” is also used in questions, when we ask for someone’s opinion.


Shall I open the window?

Shall we take a taxi?


When making obligations and promises, “shall” is used. This verb is common in formal language found in documents, forms, oaths, etc.


The employer shall be responsible for safety of his employees.

The plaintiff shall pay the defendant.


When you are not sure which form is correct, you could use the auxiliary verb “will”.


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