A lot of students have been confused by older textbooks which refer to 'will' as 'the future tense'.

A key factor to remember about 'will' is that when we talk about the future we cannot always use 'will' and that when we use 'will' we are not always talking about the future.

In these examples 'will' is clearly referring to the future.

  • I'll probably visit Sue Kay when I go to Oxford.
  • If I see her, I'll tell her about it.
  • Next year she'll be 42. Or so she says.

However, in these examples 'will' is referring to events happening at the present.

  • My car won't start.
  • I'll answer that.
  • Will you have another cup of tea?

When we use 'will' referring to the present, the idea being expressed is usually one of 'showing willingness' or 'will power'.

  • My baby won't stop crying. I've tried everything and I'm really exhausted.
  • I am the boss. You will do as I say.
  • I need quiet to write this but he will keep on talking to me. I wish he would leave me alone.

Use 'will' for requests, orders, invitations and offers.

  • Will you help me?
  • Will you please sit down?
  • Will you have some cake?
  • I'll help you.

Use 'will' for promises and threats.

  • I'll do it at once. I'll phone him immediately.
  • I'll remember this. I'll get my own back some day.

Use 'will' for insistence.

  • He will insist on smoking cigars during the meeting and it makes me ill.
  • He won't listen to reason.

Use 'will' for habit.

  • A cat will always find a warm place to sleep.
  • My car won't go any faster than this.

Use 'will' for deduction.

  • The phone's ringing. That will be Mark.
  • I expect he'll want us to start without him.

Look again at all of these examples of 'will'. They are all to do with the present or are 'timeless'.

 

 

exercise 1

exercise 2

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