Will

 

Q:

The sentence "The Queen will open the new hospital on Wednesday" is an example of which use of will + infinitive?

Berenice Hunter
Basil Paterson College, Edinburgh
Posted 07 September 2002
A:

You could call this usage the "colorless" or "plain vanilla" future. The example statement is third person, which is less likely to have another kind of coloring than one with the first or second persons.

"The Queen will open the new hospital on Wednesday" announces an arrangement, a future event seen as a matter of course. Similar statements include

Flight 7988 will arrive at Gate 54.

Dinner will be served a bit late this evening.

This year the graduating seniors will wear white caps and gowns.

These statements could theoretically be prefaced with "For your information,?

Note that all these statements are in the third person and that they have time or location adverbials that reinforce the "colorless future" force of the utterance.

Other third-person statements with will + base form can have other colorings. Here are a few.

[Prediction:] Donít worry, things will get better.

[Characteristic behavior:] HeĎll sit there for hours, just daydreaming.

[Willingness:] Our company will accept your offer.

[Commitment or promise:] Okay, my lawyer will get in touch with your lawyer.

[Refusal (negative):] He just wonít take no for an answer.

Of course, with a different context, the statement above about the Queen could have some of these other colorings:

A:

The Queen will open the new hospital on Sunday, Iíll bet.

B:

No, she will open it on Wednesday, just you wait and see! (I predict it.)

 

 

A:

The Queen didnít want to open the new hospital on Wednesday, did she?

B:

No, she didnít, but now sheís agreed. She will open it on Wednesday. (She is willing.)



Far-fetched, but conceivable:

A:

The Queen doesnít want to open the new hospital on Wednesday.

B:

The Queen will open the new hospital on Wednesday, you may be sure. (Iíll see to it!)



Third-person constructions with will + base form of the verb express, more often than not, the simple future, something expected. Exceptions are usually easy to spot.

See also a related discussion in the message "Will vs. be going to."

Marilyn Martin

 

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