Will: tense or modal or both?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most grammarians refuse to treat will as a marker of future tense in English. We examine the arguments against treating will as a tense and find them weak; the arguments in favour of treating it as a modal also turn out to be poor. We argue that will should be treated as a marker of future tense, and that its so-called modal uses are either not modal or have independent explanations. The one exception is the volitional use of will: to account for this, we propose that willingness is a semantic relic from an earlier meaning of the word.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)187-215
Number of pages29
JournalEnglish Language & Linguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2010

Bibliographical note

© 2010 Cambridge University Press


  • Tense
  • Future
  • modality
  • corpus
  • time
  • grammar
  • English
  • Huddleston


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