Shall and Should

Introduction to 'Shall' and 'Should'

In English grammar, modal verbs add functionality to the basic verbs to express more complex situations or ideas. 'Shall' and 'Should' are such modal verbs. They provide additional information about the mood, likelihood, obligation, and necessity of an action. In this in-depth tutorial, we will explore the modal verbs 'Shall' and 'Should', their distinct uses, special exceptions, and some practical examples.

Understanding 'Shall'

The modal verb 'Shall' is primarily used in formal English. It has a couple of main applications.

1. Future reference

'Shall' is used with the first person pronouns 'I' and 'We' to indicate future actions. However, it's worth noting that this use has become quite formal and is rarely seen outside legal and contract language.


  • I shall return to the office after lunch.
  • We shall go to the concert this evening.

2. Offering or asking for advice or suggestion

'Shall' is used in questions with the first person pronouns to offer or seek advice or suggestion.


  • Shall we start the meeting now?
  • What shall I wear to the party?

Understanding 'Should'

'Should' is a modal verb used for various purposes such as giving advice, talking about obligations, and expressing what is probable or expected. Let's dive into each mode of its usage.

1. Advice

'Should' is commonly used to suggest or recommend something. It's equivalent to saying "it's advisable".


  • You should drink plenty of water every day.
  • We should take a break. We've been studying for hours.

2. Probability

'Should' can also express something that is likely, probable, or expected to happen.


  • She should be at home by now.
  • The mail should arrive any minute.

3. Obligation

'Should' is used to talk about obligations. This is mostly used in formal settings.


  • Applicants should be over 18.
  • You should not park your car here.

4. Conditional Statements

'Should' is used to talk about hypothetical conditions. Usually, it's used in the "if" clause of a condition.


  • If you should need any help, don't hesitate to ask.
  • Should it rain, the game will be cancelled.


The modal verbs 'Shall' and 'Should' have several uses based on formality, context, and syntax. They bring depth to English grammar, allowing us to express advice, probability, obligation, and future happenings. While 'Shall' has somewhat faded in conversational English, its presence in contract language and similar contexts is still marked. 'Should', on the other hand, finds frequent usage in both written and spoken English.

Understanding these modal verbs, their rules, and applications will make your grammar stronger and your expressions more nuanced and precise. It is crucial to learn how to use these modal verbs correctly, not just for academic purposes, but for everyday communication as well.

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