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Thread: will or shall

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    #1

    will or shall

    Who________ we go swimming with tomorrow?

    A will B shall

    I think both are correct. But the answer is only one. Could youn tell me which one is correct? Thank you!

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    #2

    Re: will or go

    I would use 'will'.
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    #3

    Re: will or go

    It's a poor question as both are correct.

    I'd say the questioner is looking for 'shall', even though millions of native English speakers spend a lifetime without ever using this word.

    I've amended your thread title.
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 02-Mar-2017 at 13:41.

  4. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: will or go

    Both are correct.

    Some people (not all) use will to imply intention - I will get up in the morning - versus inevitability - the sun shall rise in the morning.

    Others simply think that shall sounds more ornate, poetic, or old-fashioned than will.

    There are also issues of common usage. For example we're more likely to say "Shall we dance?" than "Will we dance?" In fact, the two questions have different meanings. The first is used when we're at a dance asking our date to dance with us. The second is asking someone what he or she thinks is likely to happen at a future event.

    And there are probably other distinctions, as well. But for your example, I don't think one is better than the other.
    Last edited by Charlie Bernstein; 02-Mar-2017 at 15:05.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #5

    Re: will or go

    I'd use "Who shall we go swimming with tomorrow?" With "shall," it's clear that the interlocutor is being asked to make a choice and has a choice in the matter.

    "Who will we go swimming with tomorrow?" seems to me to ask the interlocutor to make a prediction about a future matter over which they have no choice.

    But that's weird because of "go swimming," which indicates a freely chosen activity. Would you rather go swimming or go shopping?

    "Who will we be swimming with tomorrow?" would work. Possible answer: "It's hard to say. We never know who we will find at the pool."

    (P.S. In extremely formal and rather stilted English, all the "who"s I have used above would properly be "whom.")

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    #6

    Re: will or go

    The number of Americans who would say Who shall we go swimming with? is minuscule. Most Americans never say "shall".
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    #7

    Re: will or go

    The number of Americans who would say Who shall we go swimming with? is minuscule. Most Americans never say "shall".
    This is one use of "shall" that I'm comfortable with as an American, but I will concede that I am perhaps in a very small minority.

    What would most Americans use here instead? I'm pretty sure the vast majority of us would not use "will." I believe the majority of us would use "should":

    Who should we go swimming with tomorrow?

    Does that sound right to you, GoesStation?

    Compare:

    What shall we do today? (my preference)
    (?) What will we do today? (sounds to me as though the speaker believes they will act under compulsion or without conscious choice)
    What should we do today? (either a down-home colloquial American variant of "What shall we do today?" or a use of the "ought"-like, ethical "should")

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    #8

    Re: will or go

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    I believe the majority of us would use "should":
    Who should we go swimming with tomorrow?
    In my mind, I can't disentangle that from obligation.

    A: Who should we go swimming with tomorrow?
    B: Well, we should go swimming with the Hamiltons. We went swimming with the Nicklebys all last week.

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    #9

    Re: will or go

    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    What would most Americans use here instead? I'm pretty sure the vast majority of us would not use "will." I believe the majority of us would use "should":

    Who should we go swimming with tomorrow?

    Does that sound right to you, GoesStation?
    [EDIT] Not necessarily. Who will we go swimming with tomorrow, if the asker is unsure and someone else is making the arrangements. Who should if the asker wants help choosing.

    The only time I think a significant number of Americans use "shall", except in a legal context, is when asking if their companions are ready to do something. Shall we?​ as a standalone question is, I think, still fairly common.
    Last edited by GoesStation; 02-Mar-2017 at 23:38. Reason: To add some subtleties.
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    #10

    Re: will or go

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    In my mind, I can't disentangle that from obligation.

    A: Who should we go swimming with tomorrow?
    B: Well, we should go swimming with the Hamiltons. We went swimming with the Nicklebys all last week.
    I think Brits and Americans use should a little differently. If I wanted to express obligation, I'd have to use a few more words. Maybe Who do you think​ we should go swimming with tomorrow?
    I am not a teacher.

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