shall to should // will to would

This came up in a BEC Higher class. To keep it very simple it works like this:

We use ‘should’ instead of ‘shall’ and ‘would’ instead of ‘will’ in reported speech following the basic ‘one step back’ rule:

John: “I’ll take the dog for a walk” (direct speech)


John said (that) he would take the dog for a walk  (reported speech)


Jill “Shall I open the window?” (direct speech)


Jill asked if she should open the window (reported speech)

You can also replace ‘shall’ with ‘should’ in direct speech if you want to be super polite and/or express a greater degree of uncertainty, i.e. “Should I open the window?”

About Robert D. E. Senior

Fully qualified and experienced Professional English teacher / trainer UK native speaker BA (hons, first class) Linguistics and TEFL 15 years experience in UK, Spain and Austria FCE - CAE - CPE - BEC V - BEC H - TOEFL - IELTS Business, Academic and General English
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