My teacher said, "nowadays we don't use 'shall' instead of 'will'", but I read and hear that! Can you tell me about this contradiction? Thank you

  • Welcome and thanks for your first question on ELL. I've made a few edits to clarify the question and improve the English. You're welcome to keep the edits or reject them. Just so you're aware, the more you can say in your question about what you're asking the better received your question will be. I would suggest you give examples of where you've read and heard the usage you're asking about, and explain your own thoughts about why your experience might be different from what your teacher said. – dwilli Jun 2 '19 at 3:16

Some people do, some don't.

In my (English English) dialect, I don't usually use either in affirmative statements ("I'll go"), but I use "will" or "shall" in negative ones ("I won't/shan't go"); but I always use "shall" in a question when I am asking for permission or confirmation: "Shall I go?" "Shall I open the window?"

But many speakers of Scottish English do not use "shall" even in questions, and say "Will I go?", which sounds odd to me.

My impression is that American English uses "shall" less than English English, but I'm not sure.

[Note: I'm using "English English" rather than "British English", because in the respect the Scottish English is different].

  • Americans only use "shall" after having heard British-influenced cultures speak. I don't remember it even being part of my English language classes growing up (I'm sure it was mentioned, but it obviously didn't form a memory). However, I agree completely with your statement about questions - that's by far and away the most common place for me to hear it in the western U.S. – JBH Jun 1 '19 at 22:03
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    I'm not sure that shan't is still a word in American English. But some of us still use shall in first person questions, and the ones who don't use should or something similar. Will I close the window? in a question sounds really wrong to me. (Will I go to jail? is fine, but will in first person questions is only for things I/we have no control over.) – Peter Shor Jun 2 '19 at 0:16
  • As an American I typically only use "shall" sarcastically. I rarely (if ever) hear it used seriously in everyday conversation. – Alex Jun 2 '19 at 5:25

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