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Sentences of Future Indefinite Tense: Uses of Shall and Will

The Future Tense denotes an action that will take place in the future. Like the Present and the Past Tenses, the Future Tense too has four subtypes. They are:

1. The Future Indefinite Tense
2. The Future Continuous Tense
3. The Future Perfect Tense and
4. The Future Perfect Continuous Tense.

Out of the four subtypes, the Future Indefinite Tense is most widely used and can serve the purposes of other subtypes of the future tense. So it is very important to understand the structure and uses of the future indefinite tense.

This tense is formed with shall or will plus the base form of the verb. The structure rule of this tense can be formulated as

Subject shall/will base form of verb

If the subject is I or we, shall is used. For all other subjects, will is used.


I shall go.
I shall meet him tomorrow.
We shall have lunch now.
We shall talk later.
He will come here the day after tomorrow.
She will reach New Delhi tonight.
They will have a picnic next month.
The Prime Minister will visit London next week.
John will return home in a month.
David will pursue MA in Delhi University.

In negative sentences of the future indefinite tense, 'not' is added after shall and will. The structure formula is

Subject + shall/will + not + base form of verb


I shall not go.
We shall not go.
He will not go.
They will not go.

In interrogative sentences, the auxiliaries 'shall' and 'will' are placed at the beginning of the sentences. The structure formula is

Shall/will + subject + base form of verb


Shall I go?
Shall I not go?
Will he go?
Will he not go?

In passive voice, shall and will are changed into shall be and will be.


I shall play cricket - Active Voice
Cricket will be played by me - Passive Voice
He will tell me a story - Active Voice
I shall be told a story by him - Passive Voice

Emphatic Uses of Shall and Will:

The usual rule is that shall is used with I and we. Will is used with all other nouns and pronouns. But this rule can also be reversed to express the ideas of order, promise, threat, determination, intention etc. An oft-quoted verse helps to remember this rule:

"Shall in the First person simply foretells;
In Will a threat or a promise dwells;
Shall in the Second and Third does threat,
Will then simply foretells a future feat".


I will go. (Determination)
You shall go. ( I command)
He shall get a prize. (I promise)
He shall be punished. (I threaten)


1. Shan't and won't are sometimes used for shall not and will not. Shan't is the short form of shall not. Won't is the short form of will not.

2. In modern usage, I will and we will are used to express simple futurity. So the difference between I/we shall and I/we will does no more exist in modern usage.

3. The present tense is also widely used to express simple futurity, i.e, actions which are otherwise used in the future indefinite tense.


I am going to Guwahati tomorrow.
It is going to rain soon.
Our examination starts next week.
You are to attend the meeting at 4 PM etc.