Future: will and shall - English Grammar Today - Cambridge Dictionaries Online

Future: will and shall

from English Grammar Today

Will and shall: form

Will and shall are modal verbs. They are used with the base form of the main verb (They will go; I shall ask her). Shall is only used for future time reference with I and we, and is more formal than will.

singular and plural


I, we

she, he, it, you, they

(full form)

will or shall



I, she, he, it, you, we, they

(short form)


I, we

she, he, it, you, they

(full form)

will not or shall not

will not


I, we

she, he, it, you, they

(short form)

won’t or shan’t


? +

Will or Shall


I, we

she, he, it, you, they


? −

Won’t or Shan’t


I, we

she, he, it, you, they

’ll: short forms of shall and will

Spoken English:

In speaking, shall and will are usually contracted to ’ll, especially after subject pronouns (I, we, you, they, she, he, it):

We’ll meet you outside the coffee shop. (more common in speaking than We will meet you outside the coffee shop)

Will and shall: uses


We use will and shall to make predictions and to state facts about the future:

There will be strong winds tomorrow in the south of the country.

The year 2025 will be the four-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the university.

We shall need an extra bedroom when the new baby arrives.

Decisions and offers

Will and shall (usually in the short form ’ll) are used to announce decisions and to make offers:

[a salesperson in a clothes shop is talking to a customer]


Which size do you want? Medium or large?


I’ll have large. (decision)

Wait. I’ll open the door for you. (offer)

Not: Wait. I open the door for you.

I shall contact you again when I have further information.

Shall with I and we

We can use shall instead of will with I and we in statements. Its use is more formal:

We shall never forget the holiday we had in Vietnam.

When we use shall I and shall we in questions it is usually to make suggestions rather than to refer to future time:

It’s getting late. Shall we go home?

Shall I invite Louisa and Jill to the party?

(“Future: will and shall” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press. Need grammar practice? Try English Grammar Today with Workbook.)
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