I am a British English speaker and often use "shall" and "shall not". When I contract "shall not", I pronounce it [ʃɑlnt] -- that is, the "l" sound remains. My question, therefore, is how do I spell it?

I would naturally spell it as "shaln't". I see on Wiktionary that "shalln't" (with two "l"s) is listed as an archaic spelling and shouldn't be used. All other resources I've found indicate that it should be "shan't" -- with no "l" -- but this is the American English pronunciation, to me.

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    I've never heard your version (retaining the l-sound), nor seen any previous attempt to write it. I live near Manchester but travel fairly extensively around the UK. Is that pronunciation common where you live? Jul 17, 2014 at 10:40
  • I think so, yes. To be honest, I've never really noticed, but no one looks at me funny when I say it. Presumably, if you've got a northern BE accent, it gets closer to [ʃænt]: The front vowel may then make the [l] much harder to pronounce, so it just gets dropped. Jul 17, 2014 at 10:43
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    Like Edwin and Elendil, I have never heard that pronunciation either. I would always and exclusively pronounce the contracted negative of shall as [ʃɑːnt] with ne’er a trace of an l anywhere (relatively generic RP here). I consider the contraction itself very British—in AmE, I wouldn’t use it at all, l or no l; I’d say won’t instead. If J.K. Rowling is to be believed, shan’t is also the form used in Surrey. Jul 17, 2014 at 10:49
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    (From the UK) I don't believe I've ever come across a spelling other than shan't or a pronunciation that has an 'l' sound in it. What struck me about the question was that a British English speaker appears to be equating spelling with pronunciation.
    – Rupe
    Jul 17, 2014 at 11:15
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    "Shall" and "shall not" (in any form) are pretty much restricted to explicit speech and formal writing in North American English now (the "will" future marker has almost completely displaced it in common usage). In explicit use, the not is stressed, so it's rarely heard as a contraction except as an affectation.
    – bye
    Jul 17, 2014 at 11:20

1 Answer 1


The spelling with the l sound is "shalln't". Also, I came across this after I heard it in Stargate SG1.

Season 9 - Episode 4 "The Ties that Bind". About 25 minutes in.

Daniel Jackson is told something along the lines of "we shall have to get used to each other". And he replies "No, we shalln't".

Also, iOS autocorrect will automatically punctuate "shalln't" for you.

  • Perhaps also point out that English orthography doesn't generally reflect pronunciation particularly well.
    – tripleee
    Dec 9, 2016 at 5:35

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