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Auxiliary Verbs "Will/Would" and "Shall/Should"


Auxiliary Verbs "Will/Would" and "Shall/Should"

The verbs will, would, shall, should, can, could, may, might, and must cannot be the main (full) verbs alone. They are used as auxiliary verbs only and always need a main verb to follow.


Used to express desire, preference, choice, or consent:

  • I will take this duty.
  • Will you stop talking like that?

Used to express the future:

  • It will rain tomorrow.
  • The news will spread soon.

Used to express capacity or capability:

  • This bucket will hold two gallons of water.
  • This airplane will take 200 passengers.

Used to express determination, insistence, or persistence:

  • I will do it as you say.

Would (past form of will)

Often used in auxiliary functions with rather to express preference:

  • I would rather go shopping today.
  • We’d rather say something than stay quiet.

Used to express a wish or desire:

  • I would like to have one more pencil.

Used to express contingency or possibility:

  • If I were you, I would be so happy.

Used to express routine or habitual things:

  • Normally, we would work until 6 p.m.


Mainly used in American English to ask questions politely (it has more usages in British English). For the future tense, will is more frequently used in American English than shall.

  • Shall we dance?
  • Shall I go now?
  • Let’s drink, shall we?

Often used in formal settings to deliver obligation or requirement:

  • You shall abide by the law.
  • There shall be no trespassing on this property.
  • Students shall not enter this room.

Should (past form of shall)

Often used in auxiliary functions to express an opinion, suggestion, preference, or idea:

  • You should rest at home today.
  • I should take a bus this time.
  • He should be more thoughtful in the decision-making process.

Used to express that you wish something had happened but it didn’t or couldn’t (should + have + past participle):

  • You should have seen it. It was really beautiful.
  • I should have completed it earlier to meet the deadline.
  • We should have visited the place on the way.

Used to ask for someone’s opinion:

  • What should we do now?
  • Should we continue our meeting?
  • Should we go this way?
  • Where should we go this summer?

Used to say something expected or correct:

  • There should be an old city hall building here.
  • Everybody should arrive by 6 p.m.
  • We should be there this evening.