Shall versus Will
The rule below about shall/will also applies to should/would, as described at the end.
People may sometimes tell you that there is no difference between shall and will, or even that today nobody uses shall (except in offers such as "Shall I call a taxi?"). This is not really true. The difference between shall and will is often hidden by the fact that we usually contract them in speaking with 'll. But the difference does exist.
The truth is that there are two conjugations for the verb will:
|1st Conjugation (objective, simple statement of fact)|
|Singular||I||shall||I shall be in London tomorrow.||I'll|
|you||will||You will see a large building on the left.||You'll|
|he, she, it||will||He will be wearing blue.||He'll|
|Plural||we||shall||We shall not be there when you arrive.||We shan't|
|you||will||You will find his office on the 7th floor.||You'll|
|they||will||They will arrive late.||They'll|
|2nd Conjugation (subjective, strong assertion, promise or command)|
|Singular||I||will||I will do everything possible to help.||I'll|
|you||shall||You shall be sorry for this.||You'll|
|he, she, it||shall||It shall be done.||It'll|
|Plural||we||will||We will not interfere.||We won't|
|you||shall||You shall do as you're told.||You'll|
|they||shall||They shall give one month's notice.||They'll|
It is true that this difference is not universally recognized. However, let those who make assertions such as "People in the USA never use 'shall'" peruse a good US English dictionary, or many US legal documents which often contain phrases such as:
- Each party shall give one month's notice in writing in the event of termination.
Note that exactly the same rule applies in the case of should and would. It is perfectly normal, and somewhat more elegant, to write, for example:
- I should be grateful if you would kindly send me your latest catalogue.