Can I say:

I shall do it

meaning that I am 100% it will happen?

Then, if yes, we have such a scene. I am football player and I am in front of my trainer. He is saying "You shall win!" meaning that he is 100% sure I will win. Can I say:

Shall I win?

meaning that is it really 100% that I will win?

If yes, we have a problem because

Shall I win

has two variants of understanding:

Shall I win = Should I win

Shall I win = Is it really 100% that I will win?

Am I right and what do yuo think about it?

2 Answers 2


Yes, “Shall I win?” can have either meaning. But I wouldn’t consider this a natural response to the statement “You shall win”. I’d expect a response more like “You really think so?”. I think “shall I?” is asked more often with the meaning “should I?”, so to avoid confusion, I would not use it this way (even though this is theoretically a valid use of “shall”).

  • If it's gramatically correct, then I am happy! Does it work the same way with 3rd person? "Shall he win=1) Should he win and 2) is it really 100% he will win"? If it will be theoreticall correct, too, you will make my day! Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 12:30
  • Yes, it doesn’t matter whether it’s first person, third person, or second person (or plural or singular). “Shall” has both meanings that you mentioned in your question.
    – Mixolydian
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 13:08
  • You have made my day, Mixolydian! Thank You a lot! I will make this Planet use "shall" as much as possible by my constant usage of it now :D Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 13:28

There's a slight difference for me in these two:

  • You shall win
  • You will win

Shall, to me, here is an instruction to win to someone who is capable of winning this but is considering not winning (I.e. losing on purpose), or as a strong statement to put maximum effort in and ensure success. Will is a statement of confidence from the instructor to someone who isn't sure whether winning is guaranteed.

As a question:

  • Shall I win?
  • Will I win?

To me means as you've put it- when asking another person, using shall would mean "I don't have to win this, but I know I can. What say you I embarrass my opponent by defeating him easily?". Using will means "I'm not sure if I'm going to win this, what are your thoughts?"

Other examples (not in the question form):

When my good hearted friend accidentally forgot to pay for something from the shop, and walked out with it:

"I think you will do the right thing and return it"

When my "bit of a bad boy" friend "accidentally on purpose" stole something from the shop:

"You shall do the right thing and return that item"

Third party examples:

  • "the commentator clearly thinks the Jets will win" (opinion of success)
  • "the coach told the team they shall win today if they hope to win the series" (instruction to succeed)

But really the second form might be better reworded to omit shall as it feels slightly out of place, and "need to win" or "are going to win" might better express the sentiment of whether it's an opinion or a requirement

See Link for more examples

Don't blindly and universally use shall; to this particular native English speaker it feels more formal/less common/more archaic than will; will is softer and less likely to be interpreted as imposing your desire on others, and this may be more appropriate in most situations

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .