Main Difference – Will vs. Shall
Will and shall are two modal verbs that are used to indicate future. There are several rules concerning these two verbs. In British English grammar, shall is used to indicate the first person pronoun in the future while will is used to indicate the second and third pronouns in future tenses. However, this rule becomes reverse, when it comes to expressing a strong determination. In addition, a difference can be noted in the British and American English usage of these verbs as well. In this article, we are going to talk about these different usages and the difference between will and shall, based on grammar rules and usage. However, it is important to keep in mind that these two verbs are used interchangeably in modern usage.
Will – Meaning and Usage
According to traditional rules in British English, will is used with the second and third person forms. (you, he, she, it, they).
He will help them to complete the project.
Hopefully, they will come home by next month.
However, when we are expressing a strong determination to do something in the future, the above grammar rule reverses. Thus, when we are indicating that something must definitely happen, we use will with I and We (first person pronoun)
I will make sure that he returns home safely.
We won’t tolerate this nonsense any longer.
In addition, will is also used to ask or order someone to do something. However, we can use would or could if we want to make these questions more polite.
Will you help me to remove this strain?
Will you stop making these silly jokes!
Shall – Meaning and Usage
According to traditional rules in British English, shall is used with first person personal forms. (I and we)
I shall help him to improve his grammar.
We shall be in Paris next year.
However, when we are expressing a strong determination to do something in the future, the above grammar rule reverses. In such cases, we use shall with the second and third persons.
He shall go to school tomorrow.
They shall win this case.
Though these rules dictate that shall should be used in the above-explained manner, shall and will are used more or less interchangeably in practice. In American English, will replaces shall in many cases. Shall is often considered to very formal; shall is mostly used in legalese and other formal texts.
The accused shall pay a fine of 100$.
The dependent child shall remain with the mother until he or she reaches the age of 18.
In addition, shall can be used in a first person- questions in which the speaker is being polite or offering an invitation.
Shall we dance?
Difference Between Will and Shall
Standard rule in British English Grammar
Will is used with second and third person form.
Shall is used with first person form.
Will is used with first person form when indicating a strong determination.
Shall is used with second and third person form when indicating a strong determination.
Will is less polite than shall.
Shall is more polite than will.
Will is more commonly used than shall, especially in America.
Shall is less commonly used.