Shall we


first of all excuse me for my bad English!

Well, I'm watching a movie and there's a shot where 2 people are in front of a tunnel. One guy say to the other: "Shall we."
In Italian that is translated as "let's go"

I can't really understand. Anyone can explain me the meaning of "shall we"?
Thanks in advance

  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The translation is OK, but is missing some of the sense of "Shall we?"

    "Shall we ...?" is a very courteous expression in BE. It sounds a bit formal, but might also be used informally with a sense of amusement. The ... is implicit, and could be anything that is tacitly understood. In your example, it means "Shall we go into the tunnel?"

    I'm having trouble explaining this. What might be the context?

    Let me try to give an example. Do you know the film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"?

    If they had been British, at the final moment when our heroes confronted the massed rifles of the Mexican militia (or whatever they were) in an heroic but impossible attempt, one might have looked at the other and said, "Shall we?". The other would have nodded and ...

    The rest is history.


    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I would concur that its use in AE is similar to what Panjandrum described for BE.

    It is a question to which you already know the answer, and the other person already knows what you are talking about. Usually, when one uses "shall we," there is some physical gesture involved.

    For example, let's say Mr. Gen and I are getting ready to go to a dinner party. He stands patiently by the door waiting as I hustle about to grab my evening bag, spritz myself with perfume and put in the earring that had earlier gone missing.

    When I finally get to the door, ready to go, he will open the door, and gesturing outwards, ask "Shall we?" He, and I, already know the answer.

    Its use is formal, and is rather saved for special occasions.

    Another quick example might be at a party at some kind. The music begins playing, the maestro summons couples to the dance floor, and Mr. Gen has to do is look at me and nod towards the dance floor, asking "Shall We?" I already know the question, and he already knows the answer.