View synonyms for shall


[ shal; unstressed shuhl ]

auxiliary verb

, imperative, infinitive, and participles lacking.
2nd: should or (Archaic) shouldst or shouldestpresent plural: shall3rd: should3rd: shall2nd: shall or (Archaic) shaltpresent singular 1st person: shallpast plural: shouldpast singular 1st person: should
  1. plan to, intend to, or expect to:

    I shall go later.

  2. will have to, is determined to, or definitely will:

    You shall do it. He shall do it.

  3. (in laws, directives, etc.) must; is or are obliged to:

    The meetings of the council shall be public.

  4. (used interrogatively in questions, often in invitations):

    Shall we go?


/ ʃəl; ʃæl /


  1. esp withI or we as subject used as an auxiliary to make the future tense Compare will 1

    we shall see you tomorrow

  2. withyou, he, she, it, they, or a noun as subject
    1. used as an auxiliary to indicate determination on the part of the speaker, as in issuing a threat

      you shall pay for this!

    2. used as an auxiliary to indicate compulsion, now esp in official documents

      the Tenant shall return the keys to the Landlord

    3. used as an auxiliary to indicate certainty or inevitability

      our day shall come

  3. with any noun or pronoun as subject, esp in conditional clauses or clauses expressing doubt used as an auxiliary to indicate nonspecific futurity

    he doubts whether he shall be in tomorrow

    I don't think I shall ever see her again

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The usual rule given for the use of shall and will is that where the meaning is one of simple futurity, shall is used for the first person of the verb and will for the second and third: I shall go tomorrow; they will be there now. Where the meaning involves command, obligation, or determination, the positions are reversed: it shall be done; I will definitely go. However, shall has come to be largely neglected in favour of will, which has become the commonest form of the future in all three persons

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Confusables Note

The traditional rule of usage guides dates from the 17th century and says that to denote future time shall is used in the first person ( I shall leave. We shall go ) and will in all other persons ( You will be there, won't you? He will drive us to the airport. They will not be at the meeting ). The rule continues that to express determination, will is used in the first person ( We will win the battle ) and shall in the other two persons ( You shall not bully us. They shall not pass ). Whether this rule was ever widely observed is doubtful. Today, will is used overwhelmingly in all three persons and in all types of speech and writing both for the simple future and to express determination. Shall has some use in all persons, chiefly in formal writing or speaking, to express determination: I shall return. We shall overcome. Shall also occurs in the language of laws and directives: All visitors shall observe posted regulations. Most educated native users of American English do not follow the textbook rule in making a choice between shall and will. should.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of shall1

First recorded before 900; Middle English shal, Old English sceal; cognate with Old Saxon skal, Old High German scal, Old Norse skal; compare German soll, Dutch zal

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Word History and Origins

Origin of shall1

Old English sceal; related to Old Norse skal, Old High German scal, Dutch zal

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Example Sentences

Who knew that “we shall overcome” meant “we, the few, shall book covers every decade or so, maybe, sometimes, if we are in style.”

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.

But time and history will render an unambiguous verdict on this matter, as Rubio shall soon see.

But alas, a snub is yet another of the many indignities Valerie Cherish shall endure.

It demands only that judges “shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour.”

A wise man hateth not the commandments and justices, and he shall not be dashed in pieces as a ship in a storm.

He that seeketh the law, shall be filled with it: and he that dealeth deceitfully, shall meet with a stumblingblock therein.

It seems very strange that I shall actually know Liszt at last, after hearing of him so many years.

Now first we shall want our pupil to understand, speak, read and write the mother tongue well.

We shall recover again some or all of the steadfastness and dignity of the old religious life.





shale oilShall I compare thee to a summer's day?