Instantly enhance your writing in real-time while you type. With LanguageTool

Get started for free
Back to overview

Should I Use “Shall” in American English?

powered by LanguageTool

The modal verb “shall” isn’t used too often these days. But what’s the alternative to the old-fashioned and typically British word?

How to use "should" instead of "shall"
Is “shall” really outdated and too formal? What should I use instead?

Compared to British English, for example, General American shows some distinct oddities in terms of style and word choice.

The modal verb shall (and its negative contraction shan’t), for instance, is said to be a suitable British possibility to express obligation and future suggestions:

Shall we go to the lake today?
Let’s go to the beach now, shall we?

However, we recommend that you do not use shall in your American English as it sounds too formal, too old-fashioned, and too British. Rather, stick to should or will—depending on the context.

Potential Substitutions

We should (shall) ask your mother first.

He will (shall) be there around 6 o’clock.

In order to avoid confusion with your American conversation partner, just use it in really formal contexts (e.g., legal documents, manuals, or polite requests).

The user shall ensure therapeutic X-ray equipment meets the following.

Guided by LanguageTool, you will also manage to cope with these highly specialized formats. It will always suggest the best alternative. Further it tells you how you spell “to ought to”, which you shouldn’t use either by the way.


Unleash the professional writer in you with LanguageTool

Go well beyond grammar and spell checking, and impress with clear, precise and stylistically correct writing.

Get started for free

We value your feedback

We’ve made a mistake, forgot about an important detail or didn’t manage to get the point across? Let’s help each other to perfect our writing.