Do you ever use the form 'shan't'? If yes, when?


Do you ever use the form ‘shan’t’? If yes, when?


I never use it – unless I’m trying to do a bad imitation of a Brit. :lol:

I never use it either. It sounds very funny to us, like a funny cartoon of an Englishman.

You’ll also never find an American man saying he “fancies” anything.

I use it in examples such as these:

I shan’t be coming to your party after all.
We shan’t help you if you don’t begin helping yourself.

And yet there are 980 examples of per 1 million words “shall not” in the BYU Corpus of American English.

And, as I said before, never say never, Jamie:

“The limos pulled up to the harbor, and there was Grade, pacing by his gangplank. He was wearing gray flannel trousers, a blue blazer and a Panama hat. In his hand was one of the $ 25 cigars he fancies from the vaults of Davidoff’s on Jermyn Street.”

Title Remembering Lew Grade;
Author Roger Ebert
Source Chicago Sun-Times

The BYU corpus is disproportionately weighted with texts from academic journals and literary sources, which often use English that people would be laughed at for speaking directly to other people.

Besides, we’re not talking about “shall not”, which is used from time to time by Americans, but “shan’t”. I got no hits at all for “shan’t” in the BYU corpus. I get more than 300 hits for “Popeye”, but none for “shan’t”.

I guarantee you that, although Roger Ebert used the expression in that article, where he’s trying to sound literary, he would never be caught dead telling anyone face to fact that, “I fancy a swim,” or, “I fancy another bowl of soup.” He would be laughed at, and he would seem effeminate to people.

I can’t resist the temptation to quote a phrase from “Great Expectations”

Are you saying that shan’t is commonly used in Nigerian English?


Go on, have a good laugh, I shan’t mind! A little of what you fancy, does you good.


Read this: “Equally divided into spoken, fiction, popular magazine, newspaper, and academic. Will be updated at least two times a year.”

You can search registers if you like. Do you laugh at language that is used in formal registers, for example?

Why do Americans use the strong form but not the weak form?

Effeminate? Wow! What a scary thing to be accused of. :lol:

Because we don’t.

Studied answer? :shock:

I fancy going to the USA, but I shan’t drink with effminate speakers. :lol:

BTW, what is an effeminate speaker? :wink:

Who is to say why we don’t use it? I don’t eat spaghetti. Why? Because I don’t. It’s just not my habit.

Part of the reason is that we very seldom use “shall”. You’ll bring out your corpus numbers, but nonetheless, it’s relatively rare.

A linguist, mebbe?

That statement isn’t much use to an ESL student who is learning AmEng, is it?

=> Much as I am thankful for Amy and Jamie’s help (for many times so far and in a very enthusiastic way), I can’t help saying that I hope you won’t say such things next times. British English and American English are sometimes different, but both have its good aspects and though I know you don’t mean to cause vexation, I think the sentences still do.

=> Just one thing, Alan. I’m by your side this time. I shan’t mind whatever they say about British English, I study all varieties of English, but anyway, I always fancy British English most

P.S: I also want to thank Amy and Jamie. Thanks to you, I’ve known two new Briticism. How lovely!!!

Hi Nessie

Just to make things clear, I have to tell you that ALL of my attempts to imitate British English are generally bad. I truly believe that if a Brit heard me trying to speak like a Brit, I would be laughed at. :wink:

In formal Standard Nigerian English it is quite common, but I also speak BrEng, and use shan’t there too.

I’ve always associated the word shan’t very strongly with British English. Would you say that Nigerian English is based strictly on British English?

It’s a bit more complicated than that. You can read a little about Nigerian English/es here: … vpage.html