Do you find yourself feeling puzzled when someone uses the words "must" or "shall" in a sentence? Do you wonder what they really mean?

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It's easy to confuse these two words! But It's important to grasp the use of "must" vs. "shall" as it's often used in everyday conversations. So let's simplify it and help you steer clear of any confusion that you might make when using these words!

"Must" vs. "Shall"

How are they similar?

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"Must" and "shall" are helping verbs. They come before main verbs in a sentence, and they express ideas about necessity and obligation.

When you want to ask for permission or make requests, helping verbs are a very important part of speech! Using them correctly can make a big difference in how you express yourself. Let's learn how and when to use these words

Understanding "Must"

Use "must" to show that something is required or mandatory.

Some key points to remember when using the word "must":

  1. Use "must" to express a strong necessity.

Example: Plants must have light and water to grow.

"Must" shows the necessity for plants to receive both light and water to successfully grow.

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  1. Use "must" to express obligation or duty, or following rules and laws.

Example: You must wear a seatbelt when you are driving.

The verb "must" shows an obligation to wear a seatbelt as it's the law.

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  1. "Must" can express a strong recommendation.

Example: You must visit SeaWorld when you're in San Diego.

In this example, "must" expresses a personal strong recommendation for visiting SeaWorld when in San Diego. Flaticon Icon

  1. "Must" can also be used when you're sure that something is true or highly likely to happen.

Example: The dark grey clouds outside suggestit must rain soon.

In this example, "must" means rain will probably happen soon because dark grey clouds are in the sky.

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  1. The negative of "must" is "must not". Use the negative to talk about things that aren't allowed.

Example: Students must not talk during the exam.

In this example, "must not" means that students aren't allowed or are prohibited from talking during the exam.

Understanding "Shall"

"Shall" shows a future action or obligation.

Here's a breakdown of what "shall" means and how people typically use it:

  1. "Shall" is often used in legal documents or formal speech. You might come across this word when listening to government speeches, or watching old British movies.

Example: The defendant shall appear in court on the specified date.

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  1. "Shall" is a formal way to talk about something that will happen or exist in the future.

Example: We shall meet at the library at 10 am.

  1. You can use "shall" to ask about what to do in a very polite way.

Example: Shall I help you with your project?

  1. "Shall" is more common in UK English than North American English.


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