Reply Sat 9 Apr, 2005 07:29 pm
Mo was in the tub tonight playing with some Thomas the train engines and jabbering away when I hear him say

"Thomas shan't be needing any today."

We read Thomas books over and over (and over and over) so I know that's where this shan'ting comes from but for whatever reason I've never noticed the word during our reading

Now I'm wondering how shan't fell out of favor.

Is it still in common usage in England?


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Reply Sat 9 Apr, 2005 08:38 pm
I use it sometimes when I am being sort of consciously childlike.

I imagine it fell from favour when we ceased differentiating "shall" and "will", and used will/won't for everything.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 9 Apr, 2005 08:39 pm
I thought that was a British thing.
0 Replies
Merry Andrew
Reply Sat 9 Apr, 2005 08:40 pm
What Deb said.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 9 Apr, 2005 08:45 pm
I was taught the difference as a weelowan - and taught to distinguish the two in speech.

However, I think this has all but passed away - and now we often only hear the correct version in older English novels - and in English children's stories - which is, I think, why I use it when I wish to convey a nursery tone.eg when I am aping a rebellious little girl.

Babylon English-English

• shall [ʃæl ,ʃəl]

v. will; intend to, plan to; must, be obliged to (auxiliary verb used to form the future tense) Oil and Gas Field Glossary

• Shall

Denotes requirements which must be satisfied or performed in order to comply with specifications dictated by regulatory agencies. Drow (De'shineth)

• shall

zhal English-Bulgarian

• shall


• shall

A term used to indicate that a standard is mandatory: CONCISE ENGLISH-INTERLINGUA DICTIONARY


(modal auxiliary) add suffix stressed -A to the infinitive: I GO io ira Law dictionary English to English

• shall

v. 1) an imperative command as in "you shall not kill." 2) in some statutes, "shall" is a direction but does not mean mandatory, depending on the context. hEnglish - advanced version

• shall

\shall\ (?), v. i. & auxiliary. [imp. should (?).] [oe. shal, schal, imp. sholde, scholde, as. scal, sceal, i am obliged, imp. scolde, sceolde, inf. sculan; akin to os. skulan, pres. skal, imp. skolda, d. zullen, pres. zal, imp. zoude, zou, ohg. solan, scolan, pres. scal, sol. imp. scolta, solta, g. sollen, pres. soll, imp. sollte, icel. skulu, pres. skal, imp. skyldi, sw. skola, pres. skall, imp. skulle, dan. skulle, pres. skal, imp. skulde, goth. skulan, pres. skal, imp. skulda, and to as. scyld guilt, g. schuld guilt, fault, debt, and perhaps to l. scelus crime.]
note: [shall is defective, having no infinitive, imperative, or participle.]
1. to owe; to be under obligation for. [obs.] "by the faith i shall to god" ourt of love.
2. to be obliged; must. [obs.] "me athinketh [i am sorry] that i shall rehearse it her."
3. as an auxiliary, shall indicates a duty or necessity whose obligation is derived from the person speaking; as, you shall go; he shall go; that is, i order or promise your going. it thus ordinarily expresses, in the second and third persons, a command, a threat, or a promise. if the auxillary be emphasized, the command is made more imperative, the promise or that more positive and sure. it is also employed in the language of prophecy; as, "the day shall come when, " since a promise or threat and an authoritative prophecy nearly coincide in significance. in shall with the first person, the necessity of the action is sometimes implied as residing elsewhere than in the speaker; as, i shall suffer; we shall see; and there is always a less distinct and positive assertion of his volition than is indicated by will. "i shall go" implies nearly a simple futurity; more exactly, a foretelling or an expectation of my going, in which, naturally enough, a certain degree of plan or intention may be included; emphasize the shall, and the event is described as certain to occur, and the expression approximates in meaning to our emphatic "i will go." in a question, the relation of speaker and source of obligation is of course transferred to the person addressed; as, "shall you go?" (answer, "i shall go"); "shall he go?" i. e., "do you require or promise his going?" (answer, "he shall go".) the same relation is transferred to either second or third person in such phrases as "you say, or think, you shall go;" "he says, or thinks, he shall go." after a conditional conjunction (as if, whether) shall is used in all persons to express futurity simply; as, if i, you, or he shall say they are right. should is everywhere used in the same connection and the same senses as shall, as its imperfect. it also expresses duty or moral obligation; as, he should do it whether he will or not. in the early english, and hence in our english bible, shall is the auxiliary mainly used, in all the persons, to express simple futurity. (cf. will, v. t.) shall may be used elliptically; thus, with an adverb or other word expressive of motion go may be omitted. "he to england shall along with you."
note: shall and will are often confounded by inaccurate speakers and writers. say: i shall be glad to see you. shall i do this? shall i help you? (not will i do this?) see will.
v : be going to; indicates futurity [syn: will]


• will [wɪl]

n. desire; will power; want; determination; volition

v. verb used together with other verbs to indicate the future tense

n. last testament listing inheritors of a dying person's property

v. want; act by will power; cause will power; command; determine, decide Glossary of Genealogy Terms

• will

A legal statement of a person's wishes concerning the disposal of his or her property after death

John Holwell Britannica.com

• will

also called Testament, legal means by which an owner of property disposes of his assets in the event of his death. The term is also used for the written instrument in which the testator's dispositions are expressed. There is also an oral will, called a nuncupative will, valid only in certain jurisdictions, but otherwise often...
Learn more at Britannica.com Babylon German-English

• wollen

v. want, desire, will, like, wish Theological and Philosophical Biography and Dictionary

• Will

* See Free will ; Good will ; and Will to power

German-English Online Dictionaries

• will


Dictionary of Philosophy of Mind

• will, the

A psychological phenomenon with a force-like character which is evident in our acting or trying to act and is necessary for these types of events. <Discussion> <References> Chris Eliasmith

Glossary of Kant's Technical Terms

• will

the manifestation of reason in its practical form (see practical). The two German words, 'WillkŸr' and 'Wille' can both be translated in English as 'will'. WillkŸr refers to the faculty of choice, which for Kant is just one (empirical) function of the more fundamental faculty of practical reason (=ÊWille).
Duhaime's Law Dictionary

• Will

A written and signed statement, made by an individual, which provides for the disposition of their property when they die. (See also codicil and probate.) Drow (De'shineth)

• will

orn (v); ELAMSHIN (of Lloth); will (n) Z'RESS English-Bulgarian

• will

ще; воля; завещание; желание;

This is fun!!!

"shall" vs "will", "should" vs "would"
(Usage Disputes)

The traditional rules for using these (based on the usage of
educated Southern Englishmen in the 18th and 19th centuries) are
quite intricate, and require some choices ("Should you like to see
London?"; "The doctor thought I should die") that are no longer
idiomatically reasonable. But if you're dead set on learning them,
you can access the relevant section of _The King's English_ at

Usage outside England has always been different, although the historical
prevalence of "shall" in the U.S. is sometimes underestimated:
Benjamin Franklin said, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we
shall all hang separately"; and the Shaker hymn "Simple Gifts" has
"To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed."

The old joke, where the Irishman cries for help: "I will drown
and no one shall save me" and the Englishman mistakes this for a
suicide resolution, is contrived, in that an Irishman would far more
likely say "no one will save me."

Source: [Mark Israel, 'Usage Disputes: "shall" vs "will", "should" vs "would"', The alt.usage.english FAQ file,(line 2380), (29 Sept 1997)]


April 23, 2000 - Grammar Lady: ''Will'' vs. ''Shall''
By Avi Arditti and Rosanne Skirble
01 Feb 2002, 16:46 UTC

INTRO: This week, Grammar Lady joins Wordmasters Avi Arditti and Rosanne Skirble, to try to settle an issue of longstanding confusion. Will they succeed? We shall see.

MUSIC: "Shall We Dance?"/The King and I

AA: These days, most English speakers dance around the traditional distinctions between "shall" and "will."

RS: That's because, unless you arrived here in a time machine from centuries-old southern England, chances are you wouldn't be able to master the arcane rules.

AA: But that's not to say people haven't tried.


"It might have been my grandmother's generation, people made a distinction in the use in the future between `shall' and `will.'"

AA: Grammar Lady Mary Bruder says the distinction is when you're talking about what's called the simple future -- "I shall go shopping tomorrow, that's just what I plan to do" -- versus the more emphatic: "I WILL go shopping tomorrow, don't try to stop me."

RS: But that's in the first person. When you're talking in the second or third person, according to tradition, you reverse them:

AA:So "You shall" or "they shall" becomes a command, while "you will" or "they will" just describes the simple future.

RS: But the rules are hardly simple. Maybe that's why "shall" is not used much anymore -- except in legal documents: "You shall pay your taxes on time." But, as we discussed with Grammar Lady Mary Bruder, lawyers argue about the level of obligation implied by "shall":


AA: "This is a live debate right now."

BRUDER: "Well, it may be a live debate for people who make resolutions, but among the rest of us who speak the language on an everyday basis, this is an artificial argument that needs to have been put to bed a long, long time ago."

RS: "In favor of `will.'"

BRUDER: "In favor of will, for all future tenses. And the spoken language, and the people who write on a regular basis, even in very formal language, use `will' for the future. The only common use for shall is to make suggestions: `What shall we do? Shall we go to the movies? Shall we blah blah blah. And even that is sort of the contracted `sh'll': `What sh'll we do?'"

RS: "So why have you brought to us `shall' and `will' when `shall' in this context is on its way out -- or is it to tell us that `shall' is on its way out?"

BRUDER: "Well, it's one of the questions, one of the myths of English that this is still a common distinction. The international students ask this question all the time. They think that they have to remember to use `shall' for the future sometimes and `will' at other times."

RS: "Is this because it's written in their grammar books?"

BRUDER: "Yes - well, some of the things written about English grammar in international texts are quite amazing, but this one, this actually was a feature of English, maybe in Victorian times and the rule has remained. It's sort of like ending a sentence with a preposition or splitting an infinitive, those sorts of rules."

RS: "And the `shall' and the `will' are in their textbooks and they're learning these rules, then they get mixed up because they're both future tense markers and they don't know which to use."

BRUDER: "That's right, and they are confused when they get to a classroom with a native speaker of English as a teacher, and the teacher doesn't seem to be following this rule and they're all confused."

RS: "Like, who's right anyway?"

BRUDER: "(laughs) Right."

MUSIC:"Shall We Dance"

0 Replies
Merry Andrew
Reply Sat 9 Apr, 2005 08:59 pm
Bearing in mind that English is a second language for me, here's what I remember learning as a wee Andrew of around age 11 or thereabouts:

In the first person (both singular and plural), the proper way to say it is "shall." If you substitute "will", it signnifies an emphasis. To say, "I shall do this now," is simply a statement of fact. To say, "I will do it," means that you are bound and determined to do it and ain't nuttin' gonna stop you. It is the exact opposite for the second and third person, where the simple statement of fact involves the use of "will."

But, from what I hear around me on a daily basis, this distinction has long been lost in the everyday vernacular.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 10 Apr, 2005 06:43 am

I didn't realize that "shall" had such complicated usage.

I still use "shall" now and then, most often in place of "should" when the alternative is understood but not stated:

Shall I go?

Should I go, or stay?

The force behind shall/will is very confusing.

I pulled out a legal document and it was full of shalls and shall nots (not a single shan't but also no can't or won't or other contractions).

I can see why it has fallen from favor.

Perhaps not as much as "mustn't" though.....
0 Replies
Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 10 Apr, 2005 07:57 am
Well, I have learnt at school (and according to younger pupils they still do so) 'shan't' and 'won't' as negative auxilliary verbs.

From the BBC - Learning English - Grammar - website:

future predictions: shall not > shan't
future predictions: will not > won't

Shan't and won't are the contracted forms of shall not and will not. They are both used to make predictions about what will happen in the future, as in your example, Yasmeen. Won't can be used with first, second and third person pronouns, so you could also say We won't be able to get into the show with little or no difference in meaning. Shall and shan't in this sense are used only with first person pronouns, I and we.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 10 Apr, 2005 02:18 pm
I associate the word "shan't" with Regency fops and priggish schoolgirls from between the wars.
0 Replies
Reply Sun 24 Apr, 2005 12:16 pm
I am from Seattle (US) and i use shan't all the time.
0 Replies
Reply Mon 25 Apr, 2005 06:59 am
I'm with Merry.
I learned in freshman Latin that shall is used only in first person singular or plural, and will for 2nd or 3rd person.

semper = always
ubi = where
sub = under

Semper ubi sub ubi -
That's what Mom always told me.
0 Replies
Reply Mon 25 Apr, 2005 07:53 am
I grew up in the 30's and "shan't" was considered archaic even then, but my father always used it and I adopted it from him and still use it. I also inherited the word "dasn't" (dare not) from him and still use it on occasion.
0 Replies

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