What's the full answer to "shall I"?

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2

The form Shall I is used to make offers, in general. For example

Shall I help you?

and one would answer

Yeah, help me

but what's the full answer? I mean, with a question like

You will go for meat, won't you?
Short answer: Yeah.
Full answer: Yes I will.

But shall as a second person has another meaning

Shall I help you?
Yes you shall. <-- it's no more a suggestion: I'm requiring you to do that.

and using Yes you will still sounds imperative. Therefore, is there a full answer to that form as there is for normal verbs like do, will, be and so on?

edmz

Posted 2015-09-09T09:18:03.763

Reputation: 225

1Also consider, "What shall I do tonight?" – Damkerng T. – 2015-09-09T11:48:02.470

2You could reply, "Yes, if you would." to carry a modal verb forward. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2015-09-09T13:00:32.623

1This "full answer" that you're looking for isn't necessarily something real in English usage. – Joe – 2015-09-09T19:44:26.280

1Just to underline this: "Yes please", or "No, thank you" are almost always best – Au101 – 2015-09-09T22:44:15.697

Answers

8

I would say, "Yes, please do."

In other words, if will in a question maps to will in what you are calling a "full answer", then shall in a question maps to do in the "full answer" – at least, that's one way we can look at it.

It's hard to say a mapping like this is 100% reliable, but it does seem to work in a variety of circumstances with a number of verbs. For example, consider these:

  • Shall I help you?
  • Shall I eat this last meatball?
  • Shall I meet you at the market in two hours?
  • Shall I just keep this book you let me borrow for another week?
  • Shall I shut up and kiss you?

All of those questions can be answered with, "Yes, please do."

Of course, if you want to answer the other way, you could simply say, "No, please don't."

J.R.

Posted 2015-09-09T09:18:03.763

Reputation: 108 123

Are you thus stating that there is no full answer? My answer arose because it is, as you correctly say, generally answered that way and so I wondered if there were an actual full answer. – edmz – 2015-09-09T09:39:18.177

1I don't think there's really a single, "full" answer to any of these questions. Consider your question: You will go for meat, won't you? You said the "full" answer is, "Yes, I will,", but there are plenty of other ways I could answer that question, like: "Yes, meat sounds delicious." "Yes, I'm starving!" "Yes, and I'll probably eat seconds, too." "Yes, but only a little bit – I want to leave room for dessert." – J.R. – 2015-09-09T13:03:53.543

Yes but you're no more answering the original question. My point is that verbs like would and will can always be answered in a way that keeps such verb and I was wondering if that were possible with that form too. ("Will you go to the cinema? Will you help me?" can all be answered with "Yes I will"). Also consider "What shall I do tonight?", as Damkerng T. points out. – edmz – 2015-09-09T16:46:49.477

I answered your original question as best I could. (I also upvoted it; it's an interesting question.) If the question is "Shall I [insert verb here] you?", the "fullest" answer I can think of is, "Yes, please do." So, if will in a question maps to will in the "full answer", then shall in the question maps to do in the "full answer" – at least, that's one way we can look at it. – J.R. – 2015-09-09T18:50:50.037

1The polite way to refuse a "Shall I ...?" offer would usually be "No, thank you" rather than "No, please don't" - the latter could be interpreted to mean that the offer was unwelcome! – psmears – 2015-09-09T19:09:13.000

1@psmears - I think that's probably good advice 90% of the time or more. (I think maybe I was focused too much on my last question when I wrote that!) Nice clarification. – J.R. – 2015-09-09T19:13:10.860

@J.R. No I was referring to the answers you gave("meat sounds delicious" etc.) to my first question. Anyway, can you add that mapping (actually the word I was looking for!) to your answer? – edmz – 2015-09-10T10:31:51.827

1@black I agree with J.R. (both in his answer and all comments), "Shall I ...? " is best answered with "Yes, please do." (or "No, thank you."). The reason I posted my comment ("What shall I do tonight?") was because your question made me realize that shall is not quite like other auxiliary/modal verbs. We would normally use the same verb in our reply ("Do you ...?" "Yes, I do." "Can you ...?" "No, I can't." "Will you ...?" "Yes, I will."), and they seem to work similarly in Wh-questions ("What may he need to ...?" "He may ...") IMHO, the answers may or may not choose to address this matter. – Damkerng T. – 2015-09-11T05:08:21.453

(cont.) Personally, it seems to me that modal verbs keep evolving, and shall (and perhaps will, too) are a bit special in this respect, because their meanings seem to depend on whether the grammatical subject is the first person or not. A good (but controversial) example for showing the distinction is I shall drown; no one will save me! (as in I'm going to drown) vs. I will drown; no one shall save me! (as in I want to drown). (I found it on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shall_and_will.)

– Damkerng T. – 2015-09-11T05:17:09.713

@DamkerngT. Would you write it up in an answer? – edmz – 2015-09-11T08:07:39.893

@black Thanks for the invitation! I choose not to write an answer because I don't have any better answer than J.R.'s, and I can't say that I know much enough about all the nuances of these modal verbs. (As a rule (for myself), I never post anything I just found on the web or just learned as an answer, because it would be too shaky and could be misleading for learners like you and me.) – Damkerng T. – 2015-09-11T08:12:48.107

2

I think this is a valid and good question.

I look at the question in the following way...

Grammatically the right answer (FULL answer as well) would be:

Yes, you shall.

But we normally don't answer like this, do we? (Technically the above answer is right.)

The reason is because the asker is not actually questioning his will or the event in the future, but he is offering/suggesting his future behaviour.

Similar example would be:

Why don't we go to the gym?

Because we don't like it. Sure, let's go!

So, the answer to the original question could be any of the followings and more:

Shall I play tennis with you?

Please do.

Sure why not!

Yes, please.

...

technophyle

Posted 2015-09-09T09:18:03.763

Reputation: 574

So you agree to say there isn't one in particular, unlike for normal verbs (like will, would, ...)? – edmz – 2015-09-09T16:44:47.447

Yes that's correct. – technophyle – 2015-09-09T16:53:55.193

1@black - I'm not convinced there is "one in particular" for words like will and would, either. – J.R. – 2015-09-09T19:00:27.853

2

Your question seems to be: Is there a way to say the words "Yes, you shall" to convey a different meaning than the words "Yes, you shall"? The answer to that is no.

"Yes, you shall" is a perfectly valid way to answer the question. If you don't like the meaning that "you shall" conveys, then use a different word. There are infinite different ways to answer the question.

And for the comment from Damkerng T.:

"What shall I do tonight?"

"You shall dine with me."

If you say it with a smile, it sounds like an invitation.

brando

Posted 2015-09-09T09:18:03.763

Reputation: 121

0

At times, we have to learn the language as it is. "Shall I help you?" can be answered in a various ways, three being the most common I can think of.

Sure
Why not?
Okay (less polite, IMO)

However, I'd choose replying (the full answer)

Yes, you may!

That's because the first person is politely 'asking' you to help and in return, you are giving the permission that takes 'may'.

Maulik V

Posted 2015-09-09T09:18:03.763

Reputation: 66 188

That's not what I'm asking. Also see my comment below J.R's answer. – edmz – 2015-09-09T11:57:04.867

I wrote the full answer. – Maulik V – 2015-09-09T12:05:11.113

Damkerng T. mentioned "What shall I do tonight?" and you may does not answer that. – edmz – 2015-09-09T12:08:08.180

shall + I asks for the permission. And thus, my answer remains the same. 'What shall I do tonight?" ~ "You may better study."* – Maulik V – 2015-09-09T12:11:09.910

As for @Damkerng's comment, that's outside the scope of your original question, which begins: "The form Shall I is used to make offers, in general." That's true, but the word has more uses than that: see Macmillan's Defs 1a and 1b. I don't think you'll find a single answer that will aptly answer every question with the words "Shall I" in the question. Similarly, if the question was, "What will we do tonight?" we can't answer that with, "Yes, we will."

– J.R. – 2015-09-09T18:58:12.117

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Yup! (Informal answer) Another way of saying it is Yes, you may. (or might)

Jack Blake

Posted 2015-09-09T09:18:03.763

Reputation: 1