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ESL forum > Ask for help > "Will" to express habitial actions AT PRESENT    

"Will" to express habitial actions AT PRESENT

Russian Federation

"Will" to express habitial actions AT PRESENT
Dear native speakers of English! Could you, please, explain on what occasions you use "WILL" to express present states and matter of affairs, e.g. 

"She WILL tell me what to do all the time"

"My brother WILL get up early in the morning and make a lot of noise"

Is this use of "WILL" widely spread in your speech? Or is it rather peculiar to literary English?

Tnanx in advance! :)

24 Oct 2014      

Peter Hardy

When we talk about habits or routines, we use the Present Simple. So your sentences should be: "She tells me all the time what to do." and "My brother gets up early in the morning." Will is indeed very widespread in speech, as we use it for future events, when we ´re unsure, make quick decisions or make promises. When we ´re sure about something or have kind of a plan, we ´d use ´going to ´. Examples. The phone rings, and you ´d say: "I ´ll get it". (Quick decision) "I ´ll see you later" or "They ´ll be here in a minute." (promises) "Maybe we ´ll go shopping later." (Uncertainty) Hope this helps. Otherwise, get some lovely WS or PPT from this site :-) Cheers, Peter

24 Oct 2014     


I have used your examples in informal speech, but never in written language. You would normally use the present simple, and WILL in a ´present ´ context is used to give an EXAMPLE of repetitive behaviour. Some examples:
I find English hard, so (Example of repetitive behaviour) I ´ll go online and find activities, or I ´ll watch films in English.

My friend doesn ´t like meat, so she ´ll cook her own vegetarian dishes. (It ´s an example of a behaviour as a result of a state).

But you can replace this colloquial construction with the more correct present simple and have a grammatically correct sentence. 

24 Oct 2014     

Russian Federation

to Mr. Hardy:

yes, thank you very much for remining this, but I wonder if it is ever used in PRESENT CONTEXTS to express routines and if it is used, how often. This question has arisen because no student ´s book, I have leafed through up to now, explains the use of this case clearly, but points out its existence in English, however.

to tashaleks:

thank you very much for your answer! :)

24 Oct 2014     

Peter Hardy

It may seem ´will ´ is used in a present simple context, but if you think about it, aka read more carefully, they all have the future in mind. The same goes for Tashalek ´s examples. "I ´ll go online" may happen a few seconds later, but that ´s still a future moment. Hope the following examples help. They seem to be in the present, but still refer to the future. • I will send you the information when I get it. • I will translate the email, so Mr Smith can read it. • Will you help me move this heavy table? • Will you make dinner? • I will not do your homework for you. • I won ´t do all the housework myself! • A: I ´m really hungry. B: I ´ll make some sandwiches. • A: I ´m so tired. I ´m about to fall asleep. B: I ´ll get you some coffee. • A: The phone is ringing. B: I ´ll get it. Cheers, Peter

24 Oct 2014     


Dear Niksailor, I ´m no native speaker, so I checked my Longman English Grammar (by L.G. Alexander) and found this information about the use of WILL and WOULD:

"Will/ would to describe characteristic habit/behaviour

Will can sometimes be used in place of the simple present and would in place of the simple past to refer to a person ´s characteristic habits or behaviour. Will and would are unstressed when used in this way:

In fine weather, he will often sit in the sun for hours.

As he grew older, he would often talk about his war experiences.

And note common fixed phrases with will:

Boys will be boys. Accidents will happen.

Will and would (usually with heavy stress) are often used accusingly to criticize a person´s characteristic behaviour:

Harriet will keep leaving her things all over the floor.

That ´s just typical of Harry. He would say a thing like that!

Sometimes will used in this way implies insistence, or wilful refusal to follow advice. Note that although will is not normally used after if, it can be in this sense:

If you will (stressed) go to bed so late, no wonder you ´re tired.

´Will ´ and ´would ´ to describe natural tendency

Like the simple present tense will (with a 3rd person subject) can refer to general truths or to the qualities of things; would can sometimes refer to the past.

Water will boil at 100° C. It won ´t boil at under 100°C.

I planted a vine last year but it wouldn ´t grow because it didn ´t get enough sun.

In the same way will and would can suggest ´has the capacity to ´:
Would is more tentative than will:

That container will/won ´t hold a gallon. (definite statement)

That container would/wouldn ´t hold a gallon. ( ´tentative ´)"

Hope it helps! Smile

24 Oct 2014     

United States

The specific examples you gave, nicsailor, are from an outdated use of will for intentional/willful habitual action. The word "will" was added to indicate that it was a conscious decision. The usage was mostly gone (in the US, at least) by the middle of the 20th century. It can be found in novels before that time. In such sentences, the word "will" is stressed in speech.

The examples the others gave show the current usage.


24 Oct 2014     

United Kingdom

It is used in England -  stressed, as Bruce says, ´If you will get up so early, no wonder you are always tired, ´ was said to me today. 

Dibell ´s examples from Longman are good. 

24 Oct 2014     

Russian Federation

Dear fellows, thank you so much for you help!

I appreciate it! Big smile

24 Oct 2014     

United States

Thanks for adding that, Lynne. In the US, we would say, "If you insist on getting up early..."


24 Oct 2014     

United States

It is amusing how what we read affects our thinking patterns. I don ´t usually use will to express a habitual action, but after thinking of some examples today, I found myself writing this construction in an e-mail:
It doesn ´t surprise me that his nighttime screams are not associated with  a specific remembered event from his dreams because during the daytime, he will scream without knowing why.

The examples I came up with follow.

He likes to pontificate. He´ll go on and on for hours, whenever he gets the chance to speak his mind about the environment.

She is very religious. She´ll spend anywhere from 7-10 hours a week in church.

He is very shy. He´ll stutter when he tries to speak to a girl.

She is very self conscious. She´ll hide her figure under baggy clothes whenever she goes to the beach, ever since she gained weight.

The baby is no trouble at all. She´ll sleep, then quietly explore in her crib until mom wakes up to feed her.

When I feel exuberant, I´ll prattle on and on about all I have to be thankful for.

24 Oct 2014     

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