Can anyone explain to me the difference between the usage of the word "shall" in relation to the word should?

My problem is that I believe the word "shall" carries with it an implied lack of discretion, so that it is not appropriate to use to require the reader to make a choice between two options.

For instance, consider the following question:

"Shall Gray Davis be recalled (removed) from office?"

It seems to me that there is an improper way to phrase the question of whether an individual feels that he SHOULD (or should not) be recalled from office. Indeed, we won't know whether he shall be removed from office until the votes are tabulated. If there is indeed a lack of discretion inherent in the word, then it would seem improper to use this phrase on, say, a ballot. Emotion: smile If you are to answer "yes" to the question, then you are simply predicting that more voters will vote to have him removed than not. It does not really ask whether the respondent feels that he "should" be removed from office, only whether it is inevitable that he shall be removed.

Keeping all political views out of it, am I wrong in my assessment of the use of the word?
I agree Whoopi, in some tenses shall virtually means will. Perhaps someone can give a more technical explanation.
In formal, official, legalistic language in the US, such as found on ballots, shall is used where should might be expected. It is perhaps a borrowing from a similar but less formal use of shall in first-person questions asking what to do next, such as "Shall we wait for them?" or "Shall I close the window?" or "Everyone seems to be here. Shall we begin?"

A similar pattern seen in legal documents is the use of shall for must. "The several parties shall therefore pay a fee of $1000 each for ..."

Outside the context of elections and legal documents, the same grammatical patterns are rarely heard.


I realize this is a very old post, but I thought that since it has been resurrected, it deserved a better explanation just "for the record".
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Consider this:

A: Should Gray Davis be removed?
B: In my opnion, he should, but we have to vote.

[after voting...]

A: What's the result of the vote? Shall Mr. Davis be recalled?
B: Fortunately for him, he will not.

Hope this helps!
In case you all didn't hear, he was recalled. Emotion: smile

Thanks, this was helpful.
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 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.
From my international experiences with English-speakers, I believe the meaning of "shall" is cultural too. For many uses, Shall = Should + Will.

But what do I know, I'm American Emotion: wink