American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- v. Used before a verb in the infinitive to show:
- v. Something that will take place or exist in the future: We shall arrive tomorrow.
- v. Something, such as an order, promise, requirement, or obligation: You shall leave now. He shall answer for his misdeeds. The penalty shall not exceed two years in prison.
- v. The will to do something or have something take place: I shall go out if I feel like it.
- v. Something that is inevitable: That day shall come.
- v. Archaic To be able to.
- v. Archaic To have to; must.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- A. As an independent transitive verb. To owe; be indebted or under obligation for.
- B. As an auxiliary.
- Am (is, are, was, etc.) obliged or compelled (to); will (or would) have (to); must; ought (to): used with an infinitive (without to) to express obligation, necessity, or duty in connection with some act yet to be carried out.
- Am (is, are, was, etc.) to (do something specified by the infinitive): forming verb-phrases having the value of future and conditional tenses, and usually (and properly enough) called such. shall is used in direct assertion to form the first persons singular and plural of the future and future-perfect tenses, the second and third persons in these tenses being formed by will. In this connection shall simply foretells or declares what is about to take place: as, I shall go to town to-morrow; we shall spend the summer in Europe. The future tense of the verb go thus becomes
- In the second and third persons shall implies authority or control on the part of the speaker, and is used to express
- promise; as, you shall receive your wages;
- command: as, thou Shalt not steal;
- determination; as, you shall go.
- Certainty or inevitability as regards the future.
- Interrogatively, shall or will is used according as the one or the other would be used in reply, and accordingly ‘shall I go?’ ‘shall we ho?’ ‘shall he go?’ ‘shall they go?’ ask for direction, or refer the matter to the determination of the person asked—that is, ‘shall I go?’ anticipates the answer ‘you shall go.’
- After conditionals, such as if or whether, and after verbs expressing condition or supposition, shall expresses simple futurity in all persons, the idea of restraint or necessity involved originally in the word shall being excluded by the context—thus:
- In the older writers, as for instance in the authorised version of the Bible, shall was used of all three persons.
- Shall, like other auxiliaries, is often used with an ellipsis of the following infinitive.
- The past tense should, besides the uses in which it is merely the preterit of shall, as above, has acquired some peculiar uses of its own. In some of these uses should represents the past subjunctive, not the past indicative. It is not used to express simple past futurity, except in indirect speech: as, I said I should [wasto] go; I arranged that he should [was to] go, Should is often used to give a modest or diffident tone to a statement, or to soften a statement from motives of delicacy or politeness: thus, ‘I should not like to say how many there are’ is much the same as ‘I hardly like,’ or ‘I do not like,’ etc. Similarly, ‘it should seem’ is often nearly the same as ‘it seems.’
- Should was formerly sometimes used where we should now use might.
- The distinctions in the uses of shall and will and of should and would are often so subtle, and depend so much upon the context or upon subjective conditions, that they are frequently missed by inaccurate speakers and writers, and often even by writers of the highest rank. There is a tendency in colloquial English to the exclusive use of will and (except after a conditional word) would. See will..
- Synonyms Ought, Should. See ought.
- n. An African siluroid fish of the genus Synodontis; specifically, S. schal of the Nile, a kind of catfish with a small mouth, long movable teeth in the lower jaw, a nuchal buckler, and six barbels. Also schal.
- v. modal auxiliary verb, defective Used before a verb to indicate the simple future tense, particularly in the first person singular or plural.
- v. Used similarly to indicate determination or obligation, particularly in the second and third persons singular and plural.
- v. Used in questions to suggest a possible future action.
- v. obsolete To owe.
GNU Webster's 1913
- obsolete To owe; to be under obligation for.
- obsolete To be obliged; must.
- As an auxiliary,
shallindicates a duty or necessity whose obligation is derived from the person speaking; ; 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; since a promise or threat and an authoritative prophecy nearly coincide in significance. In shallwith the first person, the necessity of the action is sometimes implied as residing elsewhere than in the speaker; ; and there is always a less distinct and positive assertion of his volition than is indicated by will. “I shallgo” 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 willgo.” In a question, the relation of speaker and source of obligation is of course transferred to the person addressed; as, “ Shallyou go?” (answer, “I shallgo”); “ Shallhe go?” i. e., “Do you require or promise his going?” (answer, “He shallgo”.) The same relation is transferred to either second or third person in such phrases as “You say, or think, you shallgo;” “He says, or thinks, he shallgo.” After a conditional conjunction (as if, whether) shallis used in all persons to express futurity simply. Shouldis everywhere used in the same connection and the same senses as shall, as its imperfect. It also expresses duty or moral obligation. In the early English, and hence in our English Bible, shallis the auxiliary mainly used, in all the persons, to express simple futurity. (Cf. Will, v. t.) Shallmay be used elliptically; thus, with an adverb or other word expressive of motion gomay be omitted.
- From Old English sculan ("I shall, I must, I owe, ought to, must"), from Proto-Germanic *skulanan, from Proto-Indo-European *skal- (“to owe, be under obligation”), *(s)kel-. Compare Dutch zullen, German sollen, Danish skulle. (Wiktionary)
- Middle English schal, from Old English sceal. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“_As thou hast come with unreasonable pride between the_ sentence _which I had passed, and the_ power _by which I shall execute it_, take thy reward _in another sentence which shall_ make good, _shall establish, shall maintain_, that power.”
“The Twenty-third Psalm begins, The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, and a passage in the Book of Isaiah says that God shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm.”
“Thus literally, in accordance with the prophecy, "_Japheth will be enlarged, he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan_ (the negro) _shall be his servant_.”
“The strangers shall be joined with them (the Israelites) and _they shall_ CLEAVE to the house of Jacob, and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord, for servants and handmaids.”
“With the first person _shall_ is used in direct statement to express a simple future action; as, "I shall go to the city to-morrow.”
“Oh, Ellen, what shall I do; oh, what _shall_ I do! perhaps my baby, my darling, is going to be very ill.”
“But oh, father, what shall I do! what _shall_ I do!”
“: _And kings shall be thy nursing-fathers, and queens_, i.e., commonwealths, _shall be thy nursing-mothers_, i.e., of the Church, they shall afford lodgings to churches and pious studies.”
“You shall go to the theatre if you want to," he remarked at last, in that sweet, protecting way peculiar to his class from the habitual confounding of _can, shall_ and _will_, and that put us into good humor directly.”
“But I shall let her see!' replied the perverse girl; 'and I _shall_ tell her so, too -- see if I don't,' she added, nodding her head; though, when she came into the presence of that good lady, she had not a word to say for herself, such a charm is there in the manner of some people to overawe presumption.”
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