Where there is a will there is a way.
An English proverb
There is more to will than meets the eye, or isn’t there? Read on and see for yourself…
A modal verb is a verb that is used with another verb to express an idea such as possibility that is not expressed by the main verb of a sentence. There are 9 modal verbs: can, could, may, might, will, would, must, shall and should. Modal verbs are in bold in the following sentences:
I can read in French.
You should quit your job.
The car won’t start.
A non-modal verb is a verb which is not an auxiliary (be, do, have) and not a modal. Non-modal verbs are in bold in the following sentences:
I have cleaned the flat.
I study biology.
He willed himself to fall asleep.
A noun is a word that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality. Nouns are in bold in the following sentences:
I see a cat.
We have bought a new table.
He did it of his own free will.
So, we see will in each of the categories above because it can perform 3 different functions.
“Will” as a modal
As a modal, will can be used to mean:
- Future (especially when we talk about things that we are certain about or things that are planned): 1) She will be 15 years old in 2 months. 2) It won’t be easy to find a good teacher.
- Future (in conditional sentences with “if”): 1) If I have more free time, I will do it. 2) She will call you if she wants to.
- Willingness: 1) She car won’t start. 2) I’ll give you a lift.
- Ability: 1) This pizza will feed 5 people. 2) The seat will hold two children.
- Request: 1) Will you tell me the time please? 2) Will you join us for a cup of tea?
- Strong probability: 1) That will be Scott at the door (I am sure it’s him). 2) As you all will know, the event starts tomorrow.
- Order (when angry): 1) Will you stop giggling while I’m trying to work! 2) You will go upstairs and you will go to bed right now!
- Something that always happens; inevitability: 1) Accidents will happen; 2) He will smoke his pipe after dinner.
“Will” as a non-modal verb
As a non-modal verb will, has a few meanings too. See them below.
- If you will something to happen, you try to make it happen by the power of your thoughts: 1) She was willing herself not to cry. 2) He willed himself to remember her name because he knew he would need to speak to her again.
- If you will something to somebody, you arrange to give money or property to others after your death: 1) He willed his entire estate to his daughter. 2) She willed her jewelry to her sister.
- If you will something, you want it (formal English): 1) Stay or go, as you will. 2) The King wills it.
“Will” as a noun
And last but not least, will can perform the function of a noun. In this case it can be used to mean:
- The mental power to control and direct your thoughts and actions, or determination to do something, despite any difficulties or opposition: 1) He is a man of a strong will. 2) Don’t ever lose the will to live.
- What someone wants to happen: 1) It is God’s will. 2) If you do it against her will, she’ll never speak to you.
- Enthusiasm (old-fashioned English): She always works with a will.
- An official statement of what a person has decided should be done with their money/property after their death: 1) She has already made a will. 2) We had to challenge the will.
Idioms with “will”
And here are 2 idioms to make the article complete.
- At will: She can cry at will (= she can cry whenever she wants to).
- To take the will for the deed: I won’t take the will for the deed this time. I have heard enough of your promises. Now I need action (= your words will not be enough, actions speak louder than words).
Do you have any questions or thoughts to share? Feel free to do that leaving a comment below. Thank you for reading and till next time! 😉