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Word comparisons

Note 113 – The use of ‘will’ and ‘shall’ in writing


According to John Seely in his book the Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation, you use “shall with I and we”, i.e. the first person singular and plural and you use “will with all other persons” e.g. he will and they will.    Here are some examples to illustrate this:



  • I shall be at the cinema at 8pm, if you want to join me.

  • Jack and Sam will not be coming to the cinema.

  • We shall not be having school dinners today.

  • Mum will be making us a packed lunch for our school trip.

John Seely explains that there is an exception to the rule – when there is an emphasis on the word, the grammar rules are reversed, for example:



  • “I will have a biscuit with my tea!” said Jamie.

  • You shall go to your room!

Does anyone use the word ‘shall’ anymore?


The word shall is infrequently used nowadays; did you know that despite the number of times the word ‘I’ is heard in speech, “will is used fourteen times more frequently than shall in conversations” (according to John Seely)?  Graham King in Collins Improve your Grammar writes that shall is “increasingly ignored in writing (American English, shall is hardly ever heard or seen; will is standard) to the extent that there is a danger of shall disappearing altogether”.  An interesting point that he mentions is that with the increasing use of it’ll, they’ll, she’ll (where it could mean either ‘will’ or ‘shall’) is helping the extinction.


My thoughts:  By using the word ‘shall’ more often in my writing, I shall feel like I am helping to preserve it; however, if I am unsure which one to use, there are always the short form – it’ll, she’ll, I’ll etc.


That’s it for today.  Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my daily blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. Just click ‘sign me up’ on the home page. Alternatively you can follow my blogs on Twitter @madeirasandra or my Tips and Luxuries Facebook page.


Until tomorrow…


Sandra


My writing challenge: http://wp.me/p1x6Ui-4


This blog: https://mywritingnotebook.wordpress.com


My other blog: http://sandramadeira.wordpress.com


My website: www.tipsandluxuries.com (includes the introduction to my upcoming book ‘A Gift for Stressed and Busy Parents’)


Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries


Reference list:


John Seely  The Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation, USA


Graham King The Collins Improve your Grammar, UK

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About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Please let me know what you think of my blog - constructive comments welcome. Have a great day Sandra Freelance Writer www.sandramadeira.com

Discussion

2 thoughts on “Note 113 – The use of ‘will’ and ‘shall’ in writing

  1. The question is, is ‘shall’ worth preserving? I think it just increases confusion, as well as having an archaic ring to it. I think its time has come.

    Posted by El Nacho | November 14, 2011, 12:47 am

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