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shall vs. will vs. going to

Let's learn when to use shall, will and going to.


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  Ramya Shankar  —  Grammar Tips
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A lot of people get confused on correct usage of will, going to & shall. Let’s take this example to start with –

Will you go to school tomorrow?

Shall we go to school tomorrow?

Did you spot the difference? While asking a question, will is used to refer to another person – like you, they. Shall on the other hand is for first person – I, we. Some more examples

Shall we go for movie this Saturday night?

Will you come with me for a movie this Saturday night?

Shall I make some breakfast for you?

Will you make some breakfast for me?

Got it? Now think of a similar everyday situation and use shall/will to form your own sentence.

‘Will’ is also used when you offer a help/ agree or disagree for something

a. I will help you with your studies.

b. I will take care of the children till you are back.

c. She will not take responsibility for the company’s failure.

In the above sentences, it isn’t appropriate to say “I shall help you…” or “I shall take care”. Use shall for asking suggestions.

Some more examples for clarity -

Shall I buy this book? / Will you buy this book for me?

What shall we do this evening? / Will you take me to the park this evening?

Will is also used to refer to future happenings. For example -

I think I will go to school tomorrow.

My friend is not well. I will go and visit her.

Wait here, I will just be back.

 

So then, when do we use going to?

‘Going to’ is also used for future – but when you are sure something is going to happen.

For example,

It will rain tomorrow. (I think)

shall vs. will vs. going to

The weather forecast says it is going to rain tomorrow (its decided)

I haven’t seen my cousin in a long time. I will go and meet her. (not sure when)

I haven’t seen my cousin in a long time. I am going to meet her tomorrow. (plan is finalised)

Let’s look at a conversation to get a better understanding of this concept

Your friend Mina has to go to the airport to catch a flight tomorrow morning (future).

Mina – Hey Jazz, I need someone to drop me at the airport tomorrow morning.

Jazz – That’s no problem, I will take you there. What time is your flight?

Mina – 9am.

Jazz – Ok. We will leave by about 7 am then!

Later, Mina meets Sam, who offers to take her to the airport.

Sam – Mina, do you want me to take you to the airport?

Mina – No, that’s fine. Jazz is going to drop me there.

 

Here is a simple conversation which combines shall/will/going to.

A – Shall we go for a movie tomorrow?

B – Sure, I will plan.

Later, C calls B.

C – Hey, what’s your plan for tomorrow.

B – We are going for a movie. Do you want to join us?

 

To summarise

1. Use shall for asking suggestions and with first person. (I, we)

2. Use will for future tense and to offer help or agree/disagree with something. Use will when you plan to do something which is not decided concretely.

3. Use going to when a plan has been decided (in future)


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