Shall vs Should

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What’s the difference between them?



Shall is used to express an obligation or determination to do something. It often implies a promise or a threat.


1. 'Shall we go to the park this afternoon?'

2. 'Shall I call a taxi for you?'

3. 'Shall I bring you a cup of tea?'



Should is used to express a recommendation, obligation, or duty, or to give advice.


1. You should call me when you get home.

2. I should have gone to the store earlier.

3. We should all work together to find a solution.

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference




1. Must

2. Should

3. Ought

4. Will

5. Supposed to

6. Have to

1. Mustn't

2. Won't

3. Refuse

4. Not allowed

5. Not necessary


1. Ought to

2. Necessitate

3. Demand

4. Be necessary

5. Imperative

1. must not

2. need not

3 ought not to

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "Shall", "Should".

1. Shall is used to express a sense of obligation or a requirement in legal contexts.

2. Should is used for the same purpose in other contexts.

3. A helpful mnemonic phrase for remembering the difference between shall and should is 'Shall for lawyers, should for others'.

Check the full list of commonly confused words in English

Learn the difference

Frequently asked questions

In what situations should the first word, 'shall', be used?

Shall is used to express a strong recommendation or an obligation. It can also be used to express promises, threats, or intentions. Shall is mostly used in legal contexts.

When is the appropriate context for using the second word, 'should'?

Should is used to express a weaker recommendation than shall. It often implies that the speaker has less authority than when they use shall.

Do the two words share the same pronunciation?

No, the two words are pronounced differently. Shall is typically pronounced /ʃæl/, while should is pronounced /ʃʊd/.

What are some common mistakes people make when using these words?

One common mistake is using shall when they meant to use should, or vice versAnother mistake is using shall in contexts where the speaker does not have the authority to make a demand. Finally, some people may incorrectly pronounce the words, such as confusing shall and should.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1. We ___ meet at the coffee shop at 4 pm tomorrow.

2. You ___ take an umbrella with you; it looks like it might rain.

3. ___ we go to the cinema or the museum today?

4. They ___ submit their applications by the end of this week.

5. I think you ___ reconsider your decision; it might not be the best option for you.

6. You ___ not disobey me! the king exclaimed.

1. shall

Explanation: The sentence describes a future plan or arrangement, which indicates the use of shall to express determination to do something.

2. should

Explanation: The sentence is giving advice about taking an umbrella due to possible rain. Hence, should is used to express a recommendation.

3. Shall

Explanation: This is a common usage of shall to form questions, especially when suggesting or making offers.

4. should

Explanation: The context here is indicating an obligation or duty, which makes should the appropriate choice.

5. should

Explanation: The sentence is giving advice, thus should is used to express a recommendation.

6. shall

Explanation: The sentence implies a command or threat from the king, making shall the appropriate word to use to express determination or obligation.

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List of Commonly Confused Words

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