- shal (obsolete)
From Middle English schal (infinitive schulen), from Old English sċeal (infinitive sċulan (“should, must”)), from Proto-West Germanic *skulan, from Proto-Germanic *skal (infinitive *skulaną), from Proto-Indo-European *skel- (“to owe, be under obligation”).
Cognate with Scots sall, sal (“shall”), West Frisian sil (infinitive sille (“shall”)), Dutch zal (infinitive zullen (“shall”)), Low German schall (infinitive schölen (“shall”)), German soll (infinitive sollen (“ought to”)), Danish skal (infinitive skulle (“shall”)), Icelandic skal (infinitive skulu (“shall”)), Afrikaans sal.
- (stressed) IPA(key): /ˈʃæl/
Audio (US; stressed) (file)
- (unstressed) IPA(key): /ʃəl/, (pre-consonantal only) /ʃ(ə)/
Audio (US; unstressed) (file)
- Rhymes: -æl (when stressed)
- Used before a verb to indicate the simple future tense in the first person singular or plural.
- I shall sing in the choir tomorrow.
- I hope that we shall win the game.
- Used similarly to indicate determination or obligation in the second and third persons singular or plural.
- (determination): You shall go to the ball!
- (obligation): Citizens shall provide proof of identity.
- Used in questions with the first person singular or plural to suggest a possible future action.
- Shall I help you with that?
- Shall we go out later?
- Let us examine that, shall we?
- (obsolete) To owe.
- (Can we add an example for this sense?)
- Shall is about one-fourth as common as will in North America compared to in the United Kingdom. Lack of exposure leads many in North America to consider it formal or even pompous or archaic, best reserved for court decisions and legal contracts. North Americans mainly use it in senses two and three.
- In law, shall is typically used to impose obligation, though the word can also convey discretionary power or recommendation. Due to its ambiguity, some jurisdictions refrain from using the term in law drafting and official writing.
- In the past, will and shall were interchangeable and synonymous, used similarly as auxiliary verbs for the future tense but separate persons. The simple future tense traditionally used shall for the first person (”I” and “we”), and will for the second and third persons. This distinction existed largely in formal language and gradually disappeared in Early Modern English.
- I shall go.
- You will go.
- An emphatic future tense, indicating volition of the speaker - determination, promise, obligation, or permission, depending on the context-, reverses the two words, using will for the first person and shall for the second and third person.
- I will go.
- You shall go.
- Usage can be reversed in questions and in dependent clauses—especially with indirect discourse. For example: Shall you do it? anticipates the response I shall do it. Or: he says that he shall win or he expects that he shall win anticipate his saying I shall win, not I will win.
- Sranan Tongo: sa
- “shall”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.
- “shall”, in The Century Dictionary […], New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911, →OCLC.
- ^ Law Drafting Division, Department of Justice (2012) Drafting Legislation in Hong Kong — A Guide to Styles and Practices, page 90: “LDD no longer uses “shall” to impose an obligation or its negative forms to impose a prohibition. Moreover, it is not used for any other purpose for which it had been used.”
- ^ Plain Language Action and Information Network (2011) Federal Plain Language Guidelines, page 25: “Besides being outdated, “shall” is imprecise. It can indicate either an obligation or a prediction. Dropping “shall” is a major step in making your document more user-friendly.”
- ^ New Zealand Law Commission (2012) Legislation Manual: Structure and Style, page 43: “Although shall is used to impose a duty or a prohibition, it is also used to indicate the future tense. This can lead to confusion. Shall is less and less in common usage, partly because it is difficult to use correctly.”
- ^ Office of Parliamentary Counsel, Australia (2012) Plain English Manual, page 20: “The traditional style uses “shall” for the imperative. However, the word is ambiguous, as it can also be used to make a statement about the future. Moreover, in common usage it’s not understood as imposing an obligation.”
- Alternative form of
- 1867, “CASTEALE CUDDE'S LAMENTATION”, in SONGS, ETC. IN THE DIALECT OF FORTH AND BARGY, number 1:
- To fho shall ich maake mee redress?
- To whom shall I make my redress?
- Jacob Poole (1867), William Barnes, editor, A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland, London: J. Russell Smith, page 102