Notes on English usage - will and shall
Get it right!
This is a tricky one! When do you use "will" and when do you use "shall"?
The rule is that, in the first person (i.e. "I" or "we"), you use "shall" when you are talking about a future action, as in "I shall be catching the bus at 4.30″; but "will" when expressing an intention to do something in the future, as in "I will come to visit, I really will!"
To make matters just that little bit more interesting, the rule is exactly the opposite with the second ("you") and third ("he, she, it, they") persons. So that "you shall catch the bus" is an order, not a prediction, and "he will visit you next week" is simply a statement of a future action.
How on earth do you remember which is which? Here is a little story (entirely made up I am sure) that might help:
Some years ago a Frenchman came to England on holiday. While swimming off the beach at Bournemouth he got into difficulties and waved frantically for help. However, nobody noticed him, or just thought that he was waving to a friend, and he got more and more desperate. Finally he shouted out "I will drown, I will drown, nobody shall save me!" The people who heard him, who had all been to very good schools and spoke in perfectly grammatical English, were convinced by this that he was committing suicide and allowed him to carry on drowning!
What he should have shouted was "I shall drown, I shall drown, nobody will save me", which might have saved his life!
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