Saturday, May 16, 2009

Modal Auxiliaries : WILL and WOULD

Non- native learners of English are often puzzled at the way English speakers use the auxiliaries WILL and WOULD .ESL learners often think that will has the auxiliary function of indicating future tense and nothing more , and would is its past tense form used in reported speech .

The truth is that WILL and WOULD are used in present-day English mainly as Modal Auxiliaries Apart from their use as future time indicators they express a variety of moods or emotional attitudes of the speakers .

The Use of WILL as a Modal Auxiliary

1Will expresses willingness

*I will help you to carry this suit-case.
*I wii lend you some money .

2 Will used to make requests

*Will you ,please, pass the salt?*
*Will you open the window, please?

3Will used to make a command or order.

* You will never talk to her like that!
* you will never step into my house again.!

4 Will used to state a general truth.

*Children will be children.
*A burnt child will dread the fire.

5 Will used to express a guess
* " Listen! Somebody is ringing the door-bell"
"Oh, it will be John. I'm expecting him"

6 Will expresses a habit

* She will sit for hours watching TV.
*He will smoke whenever he feels lonely. .

The Use of WOULD as a Modal Auxiliary

1WOULD is used in impossible conditions to nexpress something ( an action or an event) which could not be done or could not take place because the condition was not fulfilled . Example

*I would have helped if she had asked me to.

(This sentence means that I did not help her because she did not ask me to help her)

2 WOULD is used in imaginary or hypothetical conditions

*I would be happy if he apologized to her,.

(WOULD suggests that apologizing is hypothetical or imaginary )
Please note that the past tense form of the verb does not mean that the action is past in meaning .. It is the way English language shows unreal or imaginary things This may puzzle ESL learners!

3 WOULD expresses a wish

*I wish she would make a speedy recovery>.

WOULD expresses the result of an action imagined by the speaker

*She would look better in a yellow sari!

* It would be unfair to deny her a chance

WOULD expresses a polite request

*Would you, please, vacate this seat for this lady?

WOULD is sometimes used instead of used to to indicate a habitual action in the past

*She would play tennis when she was at college.

Dear readers , I hope that you have found this lesson usrful I will discuss the remaining modal auxiliaries in my next post

Thank you

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