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How to Use Modal Verbs - Shall Should for English

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

Modal Verbs- Shall / Should-The English Language

Brief overview of the Modal Verbs- Shall / Should

Modal Verbs are often used to talk about abilities and possibilities or lack of them. All modal verbs are auxiliary verbs which means they can only be used with a main verb. The modal verbs include- will, would, shall, should, can, could, may, might, and must. Here we are going to focus on the modal verbs ‘Shall’ and ‘Should’.

The verbs shall and should are the modal verbs that cannot be the main (full) verbs alone. They are used as auxiliary verbs only and always need a main verb to follow.

All grammar rules for Modal Verbs- Shall / Should

  1. ‘Shall’ and ‘Should’ are both modal verbs primarily used to express the future tense.

  2. In more formal English, the rules for using Shall and Should go like this-

  • The auxiliary ‘shall’ be used in the first person, singular and plural (I/we)

e.g.: Singular: I shall

Plural: We shall

However, shall is used with ‘I’ and ‘we’ for offers and suggestions


  • Shall I open the car?

  • Shall I order the food?

  1. ‘Should’ is the conditional form of ‘shall’

Should is generally used-

  • to give advice

e.g.: You should take care of your health.

  • in hypothetical situations

e.g.: Should you need to take a break, let me know

All situations the Modal Verbs- Shall / Should are used in

Use of ‘Shall’

1. Shall is used to express certain laws and rules


  • The citizens shall abide by the law

  • You shall not enter this classroom now

2. Shall is used for something that takes place or exists in the future

a) It is used for offers

e.g.: Shall I come to your place to pick you? Or shall we sing?

b) It is used for the suggestion

e.g.: Shall I close the door? Or what time shall we meet in the evening?

C) It is used for future expression and promises

e.g.: I shall be at movie hall at 2 pm tomorrow.

Use of ‘Should’

Should is the past tense of shall

1. It is used as a personal opinion

  • e.g.: You should go to the doctor

2. It is used to ask for someone’s opinion

  • e.g.: What do you think she should do now?

3. It is used to express that we wish something had happened but it didn’t

  • e.g.: You should have come to the concert, it was magical.

4. It is used for something that is expected

  • e.g.: Everybody should reach the church by 6

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