will and shall 1

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We use I’ll … (= I will) when we’ve just decided to do something. When we say ‘I’ll do something’,
we announce our decision:

  • Oh, I left the door open. I’ll go and shut it.
  • ‘What would you like to drink?’ ‘I’ll have orange juice, please.’
  • ‘Did you call Max?’ ‘Oh no, I forgot. I’ll call him now.’

We do not use the present simple (I do / I go etc.) in these sentences:

  • I’ll phone him now. (not I phone him now)

We oft en use I think I’ll … / I don’t think I’ll … :

  • I’m a little hungry. I think I’ll have something to eat.
  • I don’t think I’ll go out tonight. I’m too tired.

In spoken English will not is usually won’t:

  • I can see you’re busy, so I won’t stay long. (= I will not stay long)

We oft en use I’ll in these situations:

Off ering to do something

  • That bag looks heavy. I’ll help you with it. (not I help)

Agreeing to do something

  • a: Can you give Tom this book?
    b: Sure, I’ll give it to him when I see him this aft ernoon.

Promising to do something

  • Thanks for lending me the money. I’ll pay you back on Friday.
  • I won’t tell anyone what happened. I promise.

We use won’t to say that somebody refuses to do something:

  • I’ve tried to give her advice, but she won’t listen.
  • The car won’t start. (= the car ‘refuses’ to start)

Will you (do something)? = please do it:

  • Will you please turn the music down? It’s too loud.

We do not use will to talk about what has been decided or arranged before:

  • I’m going on holiday next Saturday. (not I’ll go)

Compare:

  • I’m meeting Kate tomorrow morning. (decided before)
  • a: I’ll meet you at half past ten, OK?
    b: Fine. See you then. (decided now)

We use shall mostly in the questions shall I … ? / shall we … ?

We use shall I … ? / shall we … ? to ask if it’s OK to do something or to ask for a suggestion:

  • Shall I open the window? (= do you want me to open it?)
  • I’ve got no money. What shall I do? (= what do you suggest?)
  • Shall we go?’ ‘Just a minute. I’m not ready yet.’
  • ‘Where shall we have lunch?’ ‘Let’s go to Marino’s.’

Compare shall I … ? and will you … ? :

  • Shall I shut the door? (= do you want me to shut it?)
  • Will you shut the door? (= I want you to shut it)

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