What <shall/should>I get him?

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sevengem

Senior Member
Chinese
My father’s birthday is coming. What shall I get him?

Is there any difference if I use "should" instead?
 
  • MrMuselk

    Senior Member
    English - South East England
    Should:
    Used to express the opinion that the action of the main verb is one of duty, or what is proper, or what is a good idea.
    Shall:
    Used to express plans or intentions concerning the main verb, esp. with regard to the future.
    I would use should, because getting a father a present is proper, or can even be considered a duty(Who wouldn’t? :D ) Although you can use shall, I think should is better in this situation.
     

    sevengem

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Many thanks! So if the subject changes into "Tom" or some other friend, "shall" is the better choice?
     

    MrMuselk

    Senior Member
    English - South East England
    I think that whenever you want to do something that you have planned, or are planning to do, I would use should. For example, getting someone a present is a good idea, so I would use should. Also, if you are planning to do an outdoors activity, or do something you like, I would use should: What film should we watch?
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    AE (US English)
    My father’s birthday is coming. What shall I get him?

    Is there any difference if I use "should" instead?
    In my opinion, there is no difference (in AE). This is a question. With either "shall" or "should", the question means "What is your opinion about the gift I will choose?"

    In other sentences there is a big difference between "should" and "will" and "shall". But not in this question.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    For me, it would depend on the situation. If I was debating internally or asking someone for ideas, I'd probably say "What shall I get him?"
    If I was asking someone for views on what I ought to buy, I'd say "What should I get him?"
     
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