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Will, Would / Shall, Should

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All modal verbs are auxiliary verbs, which means they can only be used with a main verb. Modal verbs cannot be a main verb.
The modal verbs are; will, would, shall, should, can, could, may, might and must. In this module we focus on will and would, and shall and should.


Will is used to show desire, preference, choice or consent:
I will accept your offer.
Will you please be quiet?

To show the future:
It will be a great party.
I will probably go out tonight.

To express capability:
The ship will take three hundred guests.
This bottle will hold two litres of wine.

To express determination or insistence:
I will pass my driving test.
I will do as you say.


Would – used to show preference
I would rather go to the cinema today. (I prefer going to the cinema today.)

Would – to show a wish
I would like to have more free time.

Would – for advice
If I were you, I would study economics.


Shall – to make a suggestion
Shall we dance?
Shall I go now?

Shall for obligation in very formal situations
You shall obey the rules.
Students shall not enter here.
There shall be no food and drink on the premises.


Should is often used to give an opinion, to make a suggestion, express a preference or an idea.
You should stay at home if you are feeling tired.
I should walk to work.
He should be more open to ideas.

Should – to ask for an opinion.
Should we tell him about our idea?
What should we do now?

Now complete the following using the right word:

Lesson by Tristan, teacher at our Malta English school

  • 1) We _ leave now or we will miss the last train.

  • 2) _ we meet tomorrow morning?

  • 3) I _ like a cup of coffee, please.

  • 4) Do you think we _ tell Sarah about Peter?

  • 5) I _ probably spend the holidays with my family.

  • 6) Danny _ prefer having the meeting next week.