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Will / Would: what they express
Some aspects of WILL and WOULD, are often studied in class and are, therefore, very well known by foreign learners. Some others are not known at all and another value of will/ would are always ignored by students. Yet, the three values of will/ would should be mastered and practised.
At first, I had planned to make a lesson and a test for "Beginners". Then, I started working and ended up with a verrrrry long exercise. It's not particularly difficult,but its length is an obstacle for beginners. Therefore, I've decided to leave this one as it is, but classify it "Intermediate". Then, I'll work on a shorter lesson on the same topic and an exercise having a total of 10 items.test Let THE FORCE be with those of you who are feeling secure enough to save the answers of this exercise after taking a pause (or more) while doing it.
1) WILL et WOULD : Auxiliaries used to build the FUTURE and the CONDITIONAL: The sequence of tenses gives: simple present=> future// preterite=> conditional.
a) In the affirmative form, we know that the FUTURE, announces the action which will be realised (or not! ).
FUTURE: (Auxiliary) WILL => Subject + WILL ('ll) + Verb Base.
CONDITIONAL: (Auxiliary) WOULD => Subject + WOULD ('d) + Verb Base.
- OK! I'll go shopping with you tomorrow to help you buy a dress for the prom.
b) In the interrogative form, the future and the conditional are formed by the inversion of the Subject and Auxiliary. (Contractions are impossible)
WILL + Subject + Verb Base?// WOULD + Subject + Verb Base?
- Will Dad lend me the car if I ask him to?
- Would Dad lend you his car if he knew you don't respect the speed limits?
c) In the negative form, you simply have to place NOT between the auxiliary and the Verb Base:
Subject + WILL + not + Verb Base.// Subject + WOULD + not + Verb Base. (Contractions in 'won't'/ wouldn't are frequently used)
- He won't lend you the new car, but he'll let you have the grey one!
The Future in the Past
2) WILL and WOULD: Expression of WILLPOWER, of CHOICE, of CONSENT, of INTENTION.
They can be modal auxiliaries expressing willpower:
a) Affirmative Form:
* The vows exchanged during a marriage ceremony : «I will help you when you need help, and I will turn to you when I need help. I choose you as the person with whom I will spend my life.» «Will you take XXX as your lawful wedded wife? » « I will ! »
Here, every 'will' means « I want to », « I insist on »...
* Similarly, in her famous song: 'I will survive', Gloria Gaynor performed a hymn to willpower, in order to defeat and win!
- Sorry, Mom, I won't do it again... (I'm determined).
- I won't obey his orders! = I refuse to obey his orders...
- He said he was too busy and wouldn't come! = (and refused to come...)
This refusal even applies to objects which are expressing their insistance to oppose human beings' desires!
- My car won't start! (= It refuses to start!) and the door won't open: It's stuck ! (the door refuses to open!)
3) FREQUENT REPETITION:
The third form of will/ would is the one you never recognise or use... It corresponds to a repetitive attitude or behaviour: it's the frequentative form describing the frequent repetitions of an action...
a) In the future, it corresponds to a regular attitude (It's often used in proverbs: 'Blood will tell'. 'Boys will be boys'. 'When the cat's away, the mice will play.'
b) In the affirmative form of the future, will often corresponds to persistence (it's stressed) and in the interrogative form, it becomes an 'order':
- He will come in without knocking! What a lack of education...
- Will you be quiet, please?
c) In the past, it often indicates the repetition of facts or actions.
- She was a chatterbox and would spend hours on the phone!
- My grandmother was calm and loving... She would cuddle us and tell us stories every night before we went to sleep.
To conclude... Before starting a translation or a simple "compréhension écrite", you must always wonder if will/ would have:
* the value of a future/ conditional= 'SIMPLE FUTURE OR 'FUTURE IN THE PAST'
* the expression of wilpower= 'WILL POWER'
* a frequentative form! = 'CHARACTERISTIC HABIT' Thus, you can manage to avoid a lot of mistakes...
BE CAREFUL! In the following exercise, first, you'll be asked to choose the right WILL/ WOULD form, THEN you'll have to ask the "value" of the modal (as explained in the values written above in capitals! ) I give you THE FORCE for the exercise ...
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