Shall vs Will in American English

valdemar

Senior Member
Español mexicano
I've been reading the threads about using "shall" or "will". According to them, Americans prefer using "will" and English uses "shall" instead. Since I'm from Mexico I'm triying to understand when it is obligued or inevitable to use "shall" in AE. Would you please help me.

Notes:
1.- I can see on these threads that it is often used "shall" in legal contracts for example.
2.- I see that "shall" can only be used with "I and We".


Some specific doubts:

If I want to say (in the sense of something that you don't have to do maybe becuase is a rule or something) " you shall not kill those animals", "you shall no go there because is dangerous", "you shall not use this gun",... how would I say that in AE, does it has the same meaning if I use will instead.

The same thing if I want to say something like "shall we go there?", "shall we dance?",...


Thank you so much
 
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    If I want to say (in the sense of something that you don't have to do maybe becuase is a rule or something) " you shall not kill those animals", "you shall no go there because is dangerous", "you shall not use this gun",... how would I say that in AE, does it has the same meaning if I use will instead.
    I don't think we would use either "shall" or "will" in circumstances where we mean a warning or want someone to follow a rule:

    Warning/Admonition/Advice:
    You should not kill those animals.
    You should not go there.
    You should not use this gun.


    Imperative:
    You must not kill those animals.
    You must not go there.
    You must not use this gun.

    The same thing if I want to say something like "shall we go there?", "shall we dance?",...
    I would be comfortable using those in American English.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I'd use "shouldn't" everywhere that you used "shall not" for expressing an opinion or warning, Valdemar: You shouldn't kill those animals. If you want something stronger for a command, you could use "must not": You must not kill those animals.

    "Shall" is so rare in my speech and writing that it's practically nonexistent. I never hear other speakers using it here in the U.S. when they order somebody else to do something.

    Another handy option is "don't": Don't kill those animals. This would work fine if you're giving a command.

    Asking "Shall we go there?" sounds normal but formal. I'd probably ask: Do you want to go there?

    Edit: Crossposting with the Catman again. :)
     
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    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Valdemar, You can't replace "shall" with "will" in your examples.

    That said, "shall" is not dead in American English. I use it! (Midwest)
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Is that a Native American greeting? :)

    I use "shall" in my spoken vocabulary. One example:

    Well, we shall not go there.
    Thanks for the answer. I was curious. Do you use this with the meaning "We have decided not to go there"? Because I never hear people use "shall" in my region, I'm really not sure what it means outside of formal documents or questions like "Shall we go there?"
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    In that context, it would mean for me: We won't talk about it / discuss it.

    (Well, we shall not go there.)

    I shall try to think of other ways we use "shall" in the Midwest. I lived in CA 10 years, and I think I've heard "shall" there too.
     
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    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    Another one.

    Scenario: Someone is telling you you should do this and that in a city / on vacation, and they emphasize you really should do it:

    You reply: I shall do that.

    Don't even get me started. :)
     
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