What is the correct usage? I shall update you or I will update you.

in short, what is the difference between Shall and Will ?

  • "Shall we dance?" (an invitation) is not the same as "Will we dance?" (asking for a prediction) – GEdgar Dec 29 '18 at 15:27

They're very similar in meaning, especially in your example, where both make perfect sense and mean the same thing. But there are a few differences.

"Will" can only ever mean that something definite is going to happen in the future, as far as the speaker is aware. For example, you could say "The weather will be good tomorrow," if you have just seen a weather forecast, saying that the weather will be good. But you wouldn't say "the weather shall be good". That would sound almost as if you are commanding or asking the weather to be good.

This is because "shall" can have a feeling of command. Think of the Ten Commandments: "Thou shalt not...", or Gandalf, saying "You shall not pass!" This meaning is most obvious when speaking in the second or third person (You shall, or He/she shall).

But if you say "I shall..." then you are essentially commanding yourself, which gives it a meaning equivalent to "I will..."

You can also use shall to form questions. For example, you could ask "Shall I get the milk?" Here, you are reversing that command aspect by asking the other person whether they "command" you to get the milk! Notice, "Will I get the milk?" wouldn't make much sense. This question-forming use is only really for the 1st person. You wouldn't ask someone "Shall you get the milk?" but perhaps, "Can you get the milk?"

It would be worth thinking about the meaning of "should" as well, as it is closely related to "shall".

In terms of which word you should use, and when; if they are equivalent, as in the examples you gave, people are more likely to use "will" than "shall". However, there are scenarios where only "shall" makes sense. I believe that in the USA, "shall" is used very little, so you may just confuse people if you use it there.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.