previous next

VERBS, AUXILIARY. Will assumed the meaning of futurity with the second and third persons

Will. You will. He will. Later, a reluctance to apply a word meaning necessity and implying compulsion1 to a person addressed (second person), or spoken of (third person), caused post-Elizabethan writers to substitute will for shall with respect to the second and third persons, even where no will at all, i.e. no purpose, is expressed, but only futurity. Thus will has to do duty both as will proper, implying purpose, and also as will improper, implying merely futurity. Owing to this unfortunate imposition of double work upon will, it is sometimes impossible to determine, except from emphasis or from the context, whether will signifies purpose or mere futurity. Thus (1) "He will come, I cannot prevent him," means "He wills (or is determined) to come;" but (2) "He will come, though unwillingly," means "His coming is certain."

Will is seldom used without another verb:

“I will no reconcilement.

So in "I will none of it." (See 321.)

1 Coriol. iii. 1. 90, "Mark you his absolute 'shall.'" A similar feeling suggested the different methods of expressing an imperative in Latin and Greek, and the substitution of the optative with ἄν for the future in Greek.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: