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Past tense "would"? That's only the historical past tense; the pages on would, shall, and should all agree that the will/would/shall/should pairs are no longer present/past pairs and their connection is purely etymological.

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does "willing" have different meanings? Where's the difference between "He is willing to come tomorrow." (example for Etymology 2) and "All the fans were willing their team to win the game." (example for Etymology 3)? I would put both to Etymology 3. I don't see a use of "willing" in the sense of "I will go to the store." -- 00:00, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Yes, "to will" (were willing their team} and "willing" (he is willing) are closely related etymologically. The difference is that "to will" is a verb, while "willing" is an adjective that is made from the verb. There is also the noun "will" (an iron will). These are completely different from the auxiliary verb will used to form the future tense. —Stephen 00:23, 29 January 2008 (UTC)


I've never heard "will" as an abbreviation for "willy" before. Sjorford 10:11, 30 June 2009 (UTC)

I think it's "willy" as an abbreviation for "William"?? Hppavilion1 (talk) 01:05, 31 January 2018 (UTC)

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= willy (penis)? I am sceptical. Equinox 08:26, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

Deleted. Equinox 02:06, 5 October 2009 (UTC)

Etymology 2[edit]

Four comments on this section:

1. The usage notes say:

Historically, the present tense is will and the past tense is would.
See the usage note at shall.
Early Modern English had a past participle "would" which is now obsolete.

It's not clear why the first and third of these usage notes should be separated by another one, or for that matter why they should not be in the same line as each other.

2. I'm surprised by the assertion that "would" was a past participle as recently as Early Modern English. My understanding is that usually for defective modern verbs you have to go all the way back to Proto-Indo-European for that. I think a quotation from Early Modern English would be in order here.

3. In definition 5 of etymology 2, my change from "Used to express the future tense, formerly with some implication of volition, especially in first-person." to "Used to express the future tense, formerly with some implication of volition (especially in first-person)." has been reverted. The former version leaves it ambiguous as to whether "especially in first-person [sic: hyphen not appropriate]" modifies "future tense" or "implication of volition". The ambiguity should be clarified, and I believe the intended interpretation is the one obtained by removing the comma between "implication of volition" and "especially in first-person".

Also, I think that "especially" should be replaced by "only", because as far as I know "will" never implied volition outside the first person.

4. Definition 2 says:

(obsolete, intransitive) To wish or desire (that something happen); to intend (that). [9th-19th c.]  [quotations ▲]
1526, William Tyndale, trans. Bible, Matthew XXVI: "the disciples cam to Jesus sayinge unto hym: where wylt thou that we prepare for the to eate the ester lambe?"
1621, Robert Burton, The Anatomy of Melancholy: "see God's goodwill toward men, hear how generally his grace is proposed, to him, and him, and them, each man in particular, and to all." 1 Tim. ii. 4. "God will that all men be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth."

Contrary to the initial part of this entry, this is transitive: in "God will that all men be saved, the object of the verb "will" is the subordinate clause "that all men be saved"; in "where wylt thou that we prepare...", the object of the verb "wylt" is again a subordinate clause: "that we prepare...". Duoduoduo 18:53, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Well I will answer some of this as best I can. 1. I agree, more or less — the usage notes are not very clear or helpful. 2. The past participle was regularly used until the 17th century. Eg Malory ‘Many tymes he myghte haue had her and he had wold’; or John Done, ‘If hee had would, hee might easily [...] occupied the Monarchy.’ 3. I would go ahead and make this change. 4. Some authorities describe this as intransitive and some as transitive, but the last time we talked about this in the WT:TR it was agreed that if a verb sense can only take a that-clause as object then we will call that intransitive here. I can't remember now what word we were specifically discussing.. Ƿidsiþ 19:59, 26 September 2011 (UTC)
Two points:
1. In etymology 2, the verb section begins
(third-person singular simple present will, present participle willing, simple past would, past participle -)
This says that there is no past participle, which is one thing that led me to wrongly delete the statement to the contrary in the usage section. (This cannot be explained by saying that it means there is no current past participle, because if this conjugation line were limited to current forms then it would not give a present participle, which only applies to the archaic form).
So I think that either the archaic past participle should be put into this conjugation line, or the archaic present participle should be deleted from it.
2. On the question of whether To wish or desire (that something happen); to intend (that) (as in where wylt thou that we prepare and in God will that all men be saved) should be labelled as transitive or intransitive, I think the discussion should be reopened. I can't find the old tea room discussion, but I'd be surprised at any authority who called this intransitive. The that clause has to have some role in the sentence, and if it's not the object of the verb then what is it? Duoduoduo 17:06, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

From Duoduoduo's talk page:

I found the Tea Room discussion I mentioned: Wiktionary:Tea_room/2011/February#warn. I ended up arguing both ways there; but the community in general accepted Brett's view, going on the outline from the (generally considered here to be definitive) Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. User:Ƿidsiþ 17:17, 29 September 2011 (UTC)

Interesting and enlightening discussion there, concerning "warn" as in "I warn that ...". But I don't think the reasoning behind the conclusion reached there about "warn that" applies to this discussion of "God will that all men be saved" or "where wylt thou that we prepare". "Warn" when transitive is illustrated by "I warn him": the verb's object is the recipient of the warning, not the topic of the warning, so in "I warn that ...", "warn" would be intransitive (although I am perplexed as to the sentence-function role of the "that" clause in "I warn that..."). But in "God will that all men be saved", the "that" clause can be replaced by the verbal object "it": "God wills it." Likewise, "where wylt thou that we prepare" = "where wylt thou it."
One key determining factor in the tea room discussion of "warn" was that an adverb cannot come between the verb and its object, so if an adverb can come between a verb and the subsequent "that" clause, then the "that" clause is not an object of the verb: e.g., *"He said clearly it" and "He said clearly that he would not come". But in the present examples of "will that", I don't think an adverb could be inserted between the verb and the "that" clause, so there is no contradiction in calling the "that" clause the object of the verb. Duoduoduo 17:41, 30 September 2011 (UTC)

Do what you will and will what you do![edit]


I saw this in a movie: is 'will', here, have the meaning of 'want'?

Thanks,--Xan2 (talk) 08:33, 2 April 2014 (UTC)

Irish English[edit]

In Father Ted S3E4, about 7 minutes in, Ted says "will I?", meaning "shall I?", i.e. asking whether he should do something. Is that a peculiarity of Irish English? Equinox 22:05, 21 June 2017 (UTC)

Not a direct answer, as an American, I would say "should I?" (and would understand "shall I?" but think it was overly bookish or something). "Will I?" sounds like a question about what is going to happen. — Eru·tuon 22:14, 21 June 2017 (UTC)