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NicoleJLeBoeuf
08-25-2006, 12:30 PM
I have this vague memory of an old grammatical rule that says that "shall" is the first person form of "will". Thus, I shall, we shall, you will, he will, they will.

I have no illusions that this rule actually gets followed today. But what I want to know is, did I totally make this up, or was that actually a rule at one time? And is there a rule today, just to make us anal-retentive type-a grammar nerds happy?

(I did try searching the forum, but "shall" is a hard term to search on. "The following words are too common and were not included in your search: shall")

Sandi LeFaucheur
08-25-2006, 01:27 PM
Yes, that is what I learned, too. I think the rule is followed less and less. Going the way of who and whom. We should start a campaign to bring back the niceties of grammar!

poetinahat
08-25-2006, 01:42 PM
I'd learned (but am not sure at all) that will connotes a definite period of time, where shall connotes an indefinite period of time.

In other words, you say "I shall" when you agree to do something, but only at some undetermined point in the future. When you say "I will", there's some sort of timeframe, either specified or implied.

Puma
08-25-2006, 05:08 PM
This is from the Woolley Scott Bracher college handbook, 1958 - "Use of Shall and Will In informal writing American practice is to use will to express the simple future: 'I will go, we will go, you will go, he (she, it, they) will go.' To express determination, promise, or prophecy, shall is normally used, though will is fairly common in the first person."

Source 2 - Harbrace College Handbook, 1962 - "Shall is generally used for the first person in asking questions ... and is often used in all persons for special emphasis." ... "... informal English tends to use will and would in all persons. NOTE: Some careful writers distinguish between shall and will: a) by using shall in the first person and will in the second and third to express the simple future or expectation."

The last item is what you were talking about. I'd say it might be a good idea to check a more recent handbook or writing manual if you're afraid shall and will may be an issue in what you're writing. Puma

CaroGirl
08-25-2006, 05:51 PM
Directly from Strunk & White:

"Shall, Will. In formal writing, the future tense requires shall for the first person, will for the second and third. The formula to express the speaker's belief regarding a future action or state is I shall; I will expresses determination or consent. A swimmer in distress cries, "I shall drown; no one will save me!" A suicide puts it the other way: "I will drown; no one shall save me!" In relaxed speech, however, the words shall and will are seldom used precisely; our ear guides us or fails to guide us, as the case may be, and we are quite likely to drown when we want to survive and survive when we want to drown."

NicoleJLeBoeuf
08-25-2006, 07:39 PM
Aha! The Strunk & White is probably where I learned the rule.

I'm not worried about it in my writing; I'm just worried about my sanity. I told a friend about this ultra-formal rule, and she thought I'd totally made it up. (This friend was also under the impression that the pseudo-word "alright," as opposed to "all right," was acceptable grammatically under certain contextual circumstances. So I wasn't too worried. But still.)

Sandi LeFaucheur
08-26-2006, 03:36 AM
A swimmer in distress cries, "I shall drown; no one will save me!" A suicide puts it the other way: "I will drown; no one shall save me!"

So d'you reckon that's how they work out whether someone jumped or if they were pushed? By their grammatically-correct (or not) last words?

darkness
08-26-2006, 05:28 AM
Look, "shall" is simply a dead word now. Even if Strunk recommends its usage in the first person, you better not do it unless the character is from a very long time ago. It will look silly, and I know a gret deal about that.
Darkness

maestrowork
08-26-2006, 05:41 AM
To me, "shall" is for first person only. And the difference "shall" and "will" is that "shall" means a future possibility, while will is more definite.

"I shall take you to the park some day."

"I will take you to the park tomorrow. I promise."

TheIT
08-26-2006, 05:43 AM
"Shall" is hardly a dead word. I use it when speaking if I want to be a bit more formal ("Shall we go?"), and I suspect the amount of usage also varies with geographic location. It might be more commonly used in Britain than in the US.

Popeyesays
08-26-2006, 06:24 AM
Emphatic Form of "will"

I will \ we will
you shall \ you shall
h/s/it shall \ they shall

Normal form:

I shall \ we shall
you will \ you will
h/s/it will \ they will

So if you are trying to force someone to your will it is You shall!
If you are trying to assert your own will: I will!


Regards,
Scott

SeanDSchaffer
08-27-2006, 03:54 AM
I frankly never knew the difference between the two words, so this is a very enlightening thread for me.


However, one thing that I do remember about 'Shall' versus 'Will' is that 'Will' can denote a desire to do something, whereas 'Shall' denotes that something is definitely going to be done. I find a lot of such usage of these two words in the King James Bible and other documents written in the Shakespearean style of English.

newmod
09-04-2006, 12:50 PM
Just a little something to throw into the mix here, but donīt forget that shall is also used for offers and suggestions e.g. "Shall I help you?" "Shall I answer the phone?"

They can be used (normally) with little or no difference but I would say that shall is less and less common and usually quite/very formal. The instances when I use shall (outside of offers/suggestions and formal situations) are few and far between.

Popeyesays
09-05-2006, 01:50 AM
I frankly never knew the difference between the two words, so this is a very enlightening thread for me.


However, one thing that I do remember about 'Shall' versus 'Will' is that 'Will' can denote a desire to do something, whereas 'Shall' denotes that something is definitely going to be done. I find a lot of such usage of these two words in the King James Bible and other documents written in the Shakespearean style of English.

It depends on which person the word is to be used.

"I will!" is emphatic showing determination. "I shall" is the inclination to do something, but no determination.

However in second person "You shall!" is emphatic.

Third person the same, "They shall!" is emphatic.

It doesn't have to make sense. It's grammar after all.

Regards,
Scott