Rules for Verb Tenses
Shall and Will,
Should and Would
Many writers admit that the verbs shall and will trouble them the most. Let's study how to use them:
EX. I shall be late unless I run.
EX. We shall be late unless we run.
EX. You will be late unless you run.
EX. He will be late unless he runs.
EX. They will be late unless they run.
In all these sentences we express the idea of future time; however, in the case of the two sentences with subjects in the first person we express the future tense by using shall; and in the three sentences with subjects in the second and third persons, we express the future tense by using will.
To express future time use shall in the first person singular and plural, and use will in the second and third persons.
Here are the proper forms:
Future Tense of Go
1. I shall go We shall go
2. You will go You will go
3. He, she, it will go They will go
Notice how we use shall and will in the following:
1. They will meet us at the baseball field tomorrow.
2. I shall be glad if you join us tomorrow.
3. We shall be glad to see you at the party.
4. We shall open gifts at the party next week.
5. I shall never forget my honeymoon.
6. You will find this book very interesting.
English would be simpler if we only had to remember these rules for using shall and willwe would not find them so troublesome. They have another use, however, which we illustrate below:
EX. I will help you.
EX. We will help you.
EX. You shall receive help.
EX. He shall help you.
EX. They shall help you.
In these sentences the verbs shall and will do not express what will be done in the future, but they make a promise.
To express the idea of willingness, determination, promise, or command use will in the first person singular and plural, and shall in the second and third persons.
Willingness, Determination, Promise, Command
1. I will go We will go
2. You shall go You shall go
3. He/ she, it shall go They shall go
In questions, we always use shall in the first person. In the second and third persons, we use shall or will if shall or will is expected in the answer.
EX. Shall I go with you?
EX. Shall you be late? I am afraid I shall.
EX. Will you go with me? I will, with pleasure.
Remember, first person is the person answering. If first person wants to express future time, he must use shall. If you want to find out what first person is to do in future time, you must use shall.
EX. Shall you come tomorrow to my party? Yes, I shall come. (Future tense.)
EX. Will you promise to come tomorrow? Yes, I will. (Determination.)
The rules for shall and will also apply to should and would. To express obligation, we use should with all three persons. To express future time, we use should in the first person and would in the second and third persons.
EX. I should like to visit you.
EX. We should like to visit you.
EX. You would like to visit him.
EX. They would like to visit you.
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