The Will Family -- Encarta

will [wil]
CORE-MEANING: a modal verb used to indicate future time
Delegates from all over Europe will attend the forum.
Will you ever be able to forgive him?
Your suit will be ready for collection tomorrow.
modal verb
1.  polite questions: used in questions to make polite invitations or offers
Will you sit down, please?
Will you have more coffee?
2.  requests: used in questions to make requests
Will you take the washing out for me please?
Phone the garage, will you?
3.  commands: used when ordering somebody to do something
You will do exactly as I say.
4.  customary behavior: used to indicate the way that something usually happens or the way that somebody usually does something
The wetter the road conditions, the harder it will be for a vehicle to stop.
When they're out together they will shop till they drop!
5.  willingness: used to indicate that somebody is willing to do something
I will mail your letters for you.
I will not tolerate this kind of behavior.
6.  ability: used to indicate the ability or capacity of something
That wardrobe will not fit in your bedroom.
The truck will carry loads of up to 10 tons.
7.  expectation: used to express surmise or likelihood
That will be them at the door now.
He will have left the country by now.
8.  inclination: used to indicate the inevitability of something happening or being true
She will stay up till all hours in front of the TV.

[ Old English wyllan < Indo-European]

See shall.

Microsoft® Encarta® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

shall [stressed, shal unstressed, shəl]
(2nd person present plural shalt (archaic) ) CORE-MEANING: will happen in the future, or intended to happen
I shall as president promote measures that keep families whole.
modal verb
1.  future events: indicates that something will or ought to happen in the future 
2.  determination: used especially in formal speech and writing to indicate determination on the part of the speaker that something will happen or somebody will do something
If you want to behave like that you shall certainly not do it here.
3.  rules and laws: indicating that something must happen or somebody is obliged to do something because of a rule or law
The department shall issue an account number to the vehicle owner.
4.  offers and suggestions: used to make offers and suggestions or to ask for advice (used in questions)
Shall I arrange it for you?
What shall I do next?
5.  certainty: indicating the certainty or inevitability of something happening in the future
If you want a new outfit that badly then you shall have one.

[ Old English sceal < Germanic, "owe"]

shall or will?

The traditional rule, often stated in grammars and usage books, is that to express a simple future tense shall is used after I and we (I shall leave promptly at noon) and will in other cases, i.e., the second and third persons (Will you leave at noon? They will leave at noon). To express intention, command, or wish their roles are reversed: I will do this right or die trying. Passengers shall present two photo IDs prior to ticketing. It is unlikely that this rule has ever been regularly observed, however, and many examples in the printed works of the best writers contradict it. Though will and, occasionally, shall are used as auxiliary verbs referring to a future action or state, other ways of expressing this are often preferred as more natural, for example, am going to. When shall and will are used in conversation, they are normally contracted to 'll, so that the difference between the two words becomes irrelevant. In all parts of the English-speaking world other than England, shall has been more or less replaced by will. It survives mostly in usages such as Shall we go? and the contracted negative form shan't, but this is rarely if ever used in modern-day U.S. English. In U.S. English, shall is still sometimes used in official and quasi-legal contexts such as These precincts shall recount the votes as per the state election regulations (a command), but this sounds old-fashioned. Shall is also a part of well-established expressions in U.S. English such as We shall overcome.

Microsoft® Encarta® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

should [stressed, shd unstressed, shəd]
CORE-MEANING: modal verb indicating that something is the right thing for somebody to do
You should get more exercise.
I should have told her I was leaving.
The report recommended that children should be tested regularly.
modal verb
1.  expressing desirability: expresses desirability or rightness
You should work less.
2.  expressing likelihood or probability: to be scheduled or expected to be or do something
I should be back by 12.
The scissors should be in the second drawer down.
They should have arrived at Grandma's by now.
3.  expressing conditions or consequences: used to express the conditionality of an occurrence and suggest it is not a given, or to indicate the consequence of something that might happen (used in conditional clauses)
If anything should happen to my car, I'd be heartbroken.
Should you have any questions, our staff will be available to help.
"If I should die, think only this of me..." (Rupert Brooke The Soldier 1887-1915)
4.  would: used to mean the same thing as the verb would (used with "I" or "we")
If we spent that much every month, we should soon run out of money.
I should love to meet her.
5.  reporting past viewpoint about future: used when reporting something such as somebody's words or thoughts from a past perspective about a future event
It was intended that the library should be for the use of everyone.
He was eager that I should meet his publisher friend.
6.  used to soften harsh words: used to soften a blunt statement or make one more polite
I should hope you're sorry now.

I should used to advise somebody to do something
I should take him up on his offer, if I were you.

should or would?

The same general pattern is true here as for shall and will. As an auxiliary verb, would is more usual than should when stating a condition or proposition and is the only choice when asking a question (They would like to come. I would think so. Would you like to go to the movies?). Should has the special role of denoting obligation, validity, or likelihood (I should stay until they arrive. Should you be lifting that? That should be our visitors now.) and must be used in inverted constructions expressing a condition: Should it rain, the party will be held indoors. Would is required when referring to habitual past action: On Wednesdays I would go to the library. In conversational English, the contracted forms I'd, you'd, etc., are regularly used instead of the full forms in making simple statements (They'd like to come), but these cannot be used in place of should in its senses of obligation or likelihood.

Microsoft® Encarta® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

would [wd]
CORE-MEANING: used to express the sense of "will" in reported speech or when referring to an event that has not happened yet
Susan didn't think she would pass.
It would be wrong to suggest otherwise.
modal verb
1.  used with "if" clauses: used in stating what will or suggesting what might happen under the circumstances described in the conditional clause
You would know him if you saw him.
My mother would be annoyed if I were to come home late.
2.  polite request: used in making polite requests or offers
Would you mind closing the window?
Would you like more coffee?
3.  habitual action: used to indicate that a past action was habitual
Every Sunday we would drive out to Coney Island.
would that used to introduce a strong desire or wish, usually one that is not expected to be fulfilled (formal)
Would that we had never met.

See wood.

See should.

Microsoft® Encarta® 2006. © 1993-2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.