Will comes first in the verb phrase in a statement (after the subject and before another verb). It is often contracted to ’ll in informal situations:
The next Olympic Games will be in London.
I’ll give you a call at about 6 o’clock.
Will cannot be used with another modal verb:
You will be obliged to sign a contract before starting employment.
You will must sign a contract… or You must will sign a contract…
Will can be followed by have to or be able to:
You’ll have to let me know when it arrives.
She will be able to live nearer her parents if she gets the job.
The negative form of will is won’t. We don’t use don’t, doesn’t, didn’t with will:
They won’t tell us very much until January.
They don’t will tell us very much until January.
We use the full form will not in formal contexts or when we want to emphasise something:
I’ll carry her but I will not push a pram.
The subject and will change position to form questions. We don’t use do, does, did:
Will you be home earlier tomorrow?
Will I be able to take this brochure home with me?
Will the number be in the phone book?
Does the number will be in the phone book?
We can use will and won’t in question tags:
You won’t forget to take the cake out of the oven, will you?
It’ll take quite a long time to get there, won’t it?
Will or ’ll?
We commonly use ’ll as the short form of will and shall. In speaking, will and shall are usually contracted to ’ll, especially after subject pronouns (I, we, you, they, he, she, it):
We’ll meet you outside the coffee shop. (more common in speaking than We will meet you …)
However, in some contexts ’ll is normally the only choice. In such cases, ’ll is best not seen as a contraction of either will or shall, but as an independent form.
As an independent form, ’ll is often used to indicate a personal decision:
There’s the cinema. We’ll get out here and you can park the car over there.
We shall/will get out…
Anyone want a drink?B:
I’ll have a tomato juice, please.
’ll is also used for indicating decisions or arrangements where will or shall would sound too direct and too formal:
OK. My diary says I’m free on Wednesday. So we’ll meet next Wednesday.
We’ll get the train to Paris and then the Metro to the hotel. Naoe and Dave and the boys’ll join us as soon as they’ve finished their meetings.
A noun phrase + ’ll is not normally acceptable in writing:
Jan’s father will fetch you from the station.
Jan’s father’ll fetch you…
’ll is not used in a tag or a short answer:
[talking about the offer of a cheap hotel room]
But you’ll have to be quick. Everyone will be after it, won’t they?B:
Yeah, they will.
Certainty in the future
One of the main uses of will is to refer to things in the future that we think are certain:
The rooms will be redecorated but all the facilities will be the same.
He’s still there at the moment.B:
He’ll be there until the new guy starts.
[talking to a child]
Will you be 5 in September?
Will is used to make predictions about the future:
Have you decided what you are going to do with the car?B:
No. Father thinks it’ll cost a lot of money to fix.
I think they’ll be off in January again. (they’ll be away, possibly on holiday)
Some predictions are about facts – things that we know always happen:
It’s all wool. It’ll shrink if you wash it in hot water.
Some predictions are about the present:
That’ll be Katie shouting. (The speaker is certain. He or she makes a deduction because of what they know about the situation.)
We often use will (or the contracted form ’ll) in the main clause of a conditional sentence when we talk about possible situations in the future:
If she gets the job, she will have to move to Germany.
I’ll take a day off if the weather’s fine next week.
Intentions and decisions
We use will for immediate intentions and decisions. We usually use ’ll, not will, after I think:
When I go and see Marie, I think I’ll take her some flowers.
What will you do with that soup? Will you just put it in the fridge or will you freeze it?
I think I’ll have some orange juice, actually.
We use will and be going to for decisions, intentions and plans. We use will when the decision is immediate and be going to when we have already made a plan:
It’s too expensive to fly on the Friday. Look it’s nearly £200. It’s only £25 to fly on Thursday.B:
We’ll fly on Thursday then.A:
Great. That’ll save us lots of money.
We’re going to drive to Birmingham on Friday, and Saturday morning we’re going to drive to Edinburgh.
Willingness and offers
Will is often used to express someone’s willingness to do something or to make offers. It is often used with I in this context:
I’ll show you where to go.
It’s just a leaflet that I’ve got.B:
Just the leaflet. Right, I’ll go and get you a brochure too.
I’ll give you a lift to the hotel.
We use will to make promises:
I’ll be there for you. Don’t worry.
We’ll always love you.
Requests and invitations
We often make requests or invitations with will:
Will you pass me the salt?
This tastes good. Will you give me the recipe?
Will you come for dinner on Saturday?
We sometimes give commands or orders using will:
Will you be quiet, please!
Will you stop picking your nails!
It is also used to insist that someone does something:
But you will have to do it. You’ll have no choice.
[parent to child]
You will wear it whether you like it or not.
Will is used to describe something the speaker thinks is generally true:
[talking about making complaints at hospitals]
Do you think they should try and make it easier for people to complain?B:
No, cos some people will always complain. (cos = because in informal speech)
We use will to refer to events that happen often:
[talking about a younger sister, Celia, who doesn’t eat properly; she refers to Celia]
Celia will start to get upset if she has to eat cabbage or meat like chicken breast. My mum will say, ‘Just try it’. And she’ll start shaking her head and going, ‘No. I don’t want to’. Mum will put it near her mouth and she’ll start to cough.
Will is also used to talk about repeated behaviour which the speaker does not like or approve of. Will is normally stressed here:
He will leave his clothes all over the floor. It drives me mad. (stronger than He leaves his clothes all over the floor.)
Inanimate objects (things)
Will may be used to refer to inanimate objects and how they respond to humans, most typically in the negative form won’t:
The car won’t start.
The door won’t open. It’s stuck.
Will and shall
We use will for all persons, but we often use shall with I and we. Will (’ll) is generally less formal than shall when used with I and we:
Simply complete the form and return it to me, and I shall personally reserve your hotel room for you.
We shall look at a full report from the centre.
We’ll see you in the morning.
Shall also has a special legal use for talking about rules and laws. In these cases, we often use it with third-person subjects:
According to the basic principle of human rights, people shall not be discriminated against because of their nationality, race, age, sex, religion, occupation and social status.
Shall and will are both used to talk about intentions and decisions. Shall is more formal than will.
In speaking ’ll is much more common than will and shall.
Will is much more common than shall in both speaking and writing.
Will: typical error
We use will or ’ll to express intentions or decisions, or to make offers, not the present simple:
I’ll never go to her house again.
I never go to her house again.
I’ll help you with that suitcase.
I help you with that suitcase.
(“Will” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press.)
- Adjectives and adverbs
Easily confused words
- Above or over?
- Across, over or through?
- Advice or advise?
- Affect or effect?
- All or every?
- All or whole?
- Allow, permit or let?
- Almost or nearly?
- Alone, lonely, or lonesome?
- Along or alongside?
- Already, still or yet?
- Also, as well or too?
- Alternate(ly), alternative(ly)
- Although or though?
- Altogether or all together?
- Amount of, number of or quantity of?
- Any more or anymore?
- Anyone, anybody or anything?
- Apart from or except for?
- Arise or rise?
- Around or round?
- Arouse or rouse?
- As or like?
- As, because or since?
- As, when or while?
- Been or gone?
- Begin or start?
- Beside or besides?
- Between or among?
- Born or borne?
- Bring, take and fetch
- Can, could or may?
- Classic or classical?
- Come or go?
- Consider or regard?
- Consist, comprise or compose?
- Content or contents?
- Different from, different to or different than?
- Do or make?
- Down, downwards or downward?
- During or for?
- Each or every?
- East or eastern; north or northern?
- Economic or economical?
- Efficient or effective?
- Elder, eldest or older, oldest?
- End or finish?
- Especially or specially?
- Every one or everyone?
- Except or except for?
- Expect, hope or wait?
- Experience or experiment?
- Fall or fall down?
- Far or a long way?
- Farther, farthest or further, furthest?
- Fast, quick or quickly?
- Fell or felt?
- Female or feminine; male or masculine?
- Finally, at last, lastly or in the end?
- First, firstly or at first?
- Fit or suit?
- Following or the following?
- For or since?
- Forget or leave?
- Full or filled?
- Fun or funny?
- Get or go?
- Grateful or thankful?
- Hear or listen (to)?
- High or tall?
- Historic or historical?
- House or home?
- How is …? or What is … like?
- If or when?
- If or whether?
- Ill or sick?
- Imply or infer?
- In the way or on the way?
- It’s or its?
- Late or lately?
- Lay or lie?
- Lend or borrow?
- Less or fewer?
- Look at, see or watch?
- Low or short?
- Man, mankind or people?
- Maybe or may be?
- Maybe or perhaps?
- Nearest or next?
- Never or not … ever?
- Nice or sympathetic?
- No doubt or without doubt?
- No or not?
- Nowadays, these days or today?
- Open or opened?
- Opportunity or possibility?
- Opposite or in front of?
- Other, others, the other or another?
- Out or out of?
- Permit or permission?
- Person, persons or people?
- Pick or pick up?
- Play or game?
- Politics, political, politician or policy?
- Price or prize?
- Principal or principle?
- Quiet or quite?
- Raise or rise?
- Remember or remind?
- Right or rightly?
- Rob or steal?
- Say or tell?
- So that or in order that?
- Sometimes or sometime?
- Sound or noise?
- Speak or talk?
- Such or so?
- There, their or they’re?
- Towards or toward?
- Wait or wait for?
- Wake, wake up or awaken?
- Worth or worthwhile?
- Nouns, pronouns and determiners
Prepositions and particles
- Among and amongst
- At, in and to (movement)
- At, on and in (place)
- At, on and in (time)
- Beneath: meaning and use
- By + myself etc.
- For + -ing
- In front of
- In spite of and despite
- In, into
- Near and near to
- On, onto
- Prepositional phrases
- Words, sentences and clauses
- Using English
- about verbs
- be and be expressions
- common verbs
- infinitives and imperatives
- modals and modality
- verb patterns
Word of the Day
to make a surface shiny by putting a liquid substance onto it and leaving it or heating it until it dries