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    #1

    use of will and shall

    Hello,

    Today my son came home and asked me whether the following sentence was correct: 'Will we see you tomorrow?'

    I am a teacher of English myself and I think there is nothing wrong with this sentence? However, my son said his teacher had told him that he should have used 'Shall' instead of 'Will' and that 'Will' was incorrect.

    Just being curious. Who is right?

    J. Lemmen

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    #2

    Re: use of will and shall

    In this sentence there is no difference.

    Welcome to the board, lemmen.

    Rover

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: use of will and shall

    Quote Originally Posted by lemmen996 View Post
    Hello,

    Today my son came home and asked me whether the following sentence was correct: 'Will we see you tomorrow?'

    I am a teacher of English myself and I think there is nothing wrong with this sentence? However, my son said his teacher had told him that he should have used 'Shall' instead of 'Will' and that 'Will' was incorrect.

    Just being curious. Who is right?

    J. Lemmen
    A long time ago, the teacher would have been right.
    These days, almost no one cares. (The answer might be different for BrE).

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    #4

    Re: use of will and shall

    These days, almost no one cares. (The answer might be different for BrE).
    No - it's the same here.

    Rover

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    #5

    Re: use of will and shall

    Quote Originally Posted by lemmen996 View Post
    Hello,

    Today my son came home and asked me whether the following sentence was correct: 'Will we see you tomorrow?'

    I am a teacher of English myself and I think there is nothing wrong with this sentence? However, my son said his teacher had told him that he should have used 'Shall' instead of 'Will' and that 'Will' was incorrect.

    Just being curious. Who is right?

    J. Lemmen

    ********** NOT A TEACHER **********


    Lemmen,

    You can be very happy that your son has a good teacher who is

    trying to teach him elegant, grammar-book English. I have

    checked my books and discovered that the teacher is correct.

    According to the rules (which most ordinary people no longer

    even try to follow), one uses "shall" for I/we when referring to the

    future; "will" when referring to volition (determination, etc.).

    Here is a similar example from a scholarly grammar book:

    Shall we have the pleasure of seeing you tomorrow?

    *****

    Here in the United States, people do not try to speak like that.

    We use "will" for almost everything. (Shall is reserved for a few

    situations.) Therefore -- according to American grammar -- your

    sentence (using "will") is also correct.

    *****

    Many years ago, an English gentleman who wrote a famous book on

    good English said that ordinary people like me could never learn to

    use those two words correctly. He said that the only people who could

    were those to the manner born. That is, one had to be born into an

    upper-class British family where those two words were used naturally

    and without thought.

    I guess that if you want to see how those two words should be used,

    you should try to read some speeches of Her Majesty, the Queen.

    Presumably, she speaks (and hears within her family) the choicest of

    English grammar.

    ********** NOT A TEACHER **********

  2. 5jj's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: use of will and shall

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    I have checked my books and discovered that the teacher is correct.

    English grammar.
    Your books and the teacher are 'correct' only if they are referring to the language of a minority of speakers of BrE half a century ago.

  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: use of will and shall

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    Your books and the teacher are 'correct' only if they are referring to the language of a minority of speakers of BrE half a century ago.
    You are probably right but it comes naturally to me to use "shall", not always but very often. For example, I would always say "Shall I make tea?" but in the case of "Will/shall we see you tomorrow?" I would use both about equally.

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: use of will and shall

    Is there a difference in will/shall in the first person if the person is describing an intention (I shall come visit you tomorrow) and a question of simple future (Will I win the lottery?)?

    If so, then "Shall I carry that for you?" and "Will I get to touch Lady Gaga's luggage when she comes to the hotel?" should have different verbs, right?

    If not... well then, never mind!
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  5. 5jj's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: use of will and shall

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    You are probably right but it comes naturally to me to use "shall", not always but very often. For example, I would always say "Shall I make tea?" but in the case of "Will/shall we see you tomorrow?" I would use both about equally.
    The 'correct' use of shall/will was beaten into me so effectively at school that I still use shall as Dr F T Wood prescribed.

    However, I think that to say that 'Will we see you tomorrow?' is wrong is wrong. (That was a clumsy construction, but I like it.)

    Incidentally, though I do not teach I/we shall as the correct form for referring to the future, I do present shall I/we...? as the form for a suggestion or offer.


    Wood, Frederick T (1954) The Groundwork of English Grammar, London: Macmillan

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    #10

    Re: use of will and shall

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    You are probably right but it comes naturally to me to use "shall", not always but very often. For example, I would always say "Shall I make tea?" but in the case of "Will/shall we see you tomorrow?" I would use both about equally.
    I may be wrong, but I think "Will I make tea?" and "Shall I make tea?" have different meanings. The former sounds like something out of a monologue; it's as if you're asking yourself whether you will make tea at some point in the future. On the other hand, "Shall I make tea?" seems to be another way of saying "Would you like me to make tea?"

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