I hear people ending sentences in a question like:

you didn't ...do you?
he is ... isn't he?
she should... shouldn't she?

What about shall? Can I say: I shall (do something), shall I? or I shall... shall I not?

When can I end a sentence with shall I? Do I need to start the sentence with the negative of shall (what is it?)

  • 3
    Setting aside that "shall" is a bit archaic, not really a word people use a lot anymore, most people instead using "should" or "will" (in the UK where "shall" in the first person used to be commonly used instead of "will"), yes, "shall I not" is something you could say after "I shall" (e.g., "I shall, shall I not?"). Again, that sounds very old-fashioned, but it's not ungrammatical. Also, be aware of the contraction "shan't" as a worthy substitute (e.g., "I shall, shan't I?"). Also, some people might instead say, "I shall, shall I?" – Billy Jul 9 '18 at 4:59
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    "Shall I pick you up at six?" is perfectly natural in all dialects. "Will I pick you up at six?" sounds Irish to me"! – BillJ Jul 9 '18 at 9:43
  • Guy, could you list two or three examples, please? – Robbie Goodwin Jul 27 '18 at 21:37
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    In American English shall is limited to two first-person question uses: singular, which is an offer to do something for the addressee: Shall I turn it off? And plural, which is an invitation to the addressee to do something together with the speaker: Shall we dance? Other than that, it doesn't really occur outside laws except when Americans try to sound formal and stuffy. – John Lawler Aug 8 '18 at 15:46
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    Let's go now, shall we? It is also the tag for let's, first person plural. Let's be nice, shall we? To me, it sounds educated but I won't say it to the gas station attendant. – Lambie Sep 7 '18 at 18:06

You may also use this at the end of a choice sentence.

Will you eat the last triple chocolate brownie or shall I?

  • Well done. Mine and yours cohere, kinda. – Lambie Sep 7 '18 at 18:10

Let's all play nice, shall we?

Let's have a drink now, shall we?

Tags can get tricky in English.

I'm a pain, aren't I?

But, of course, we also have: I'm a pain, am I not?


Shall is a weird pick for end of sentence negation, as it is mostly used in a fate/higher power -ordains kind of way nowadays. 'I shall die tomorrow', ' nobody shall touch the body', etc. . ' - the negation as 'shall i not' is good, as the concatenated 'shan't i' does not express the negation as clearly (also compare don't/ do i not, won't/will i not,...).


Remember that the tag question at the end needs to flip the polarity by adding a not if the initial statement lacked it and by subtracting the negative if the initial statement had it.

So for example:

  • I shall die tomorrow, shan’t I?
  • I shall not pass this way again, shall I?

Those aren’t really in common use, no.

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