View Poll Results: What is the past tense of 'Will'?

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  1. #1
    Red5 is offline Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com
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    What is the past tense of 'Will'?

    Select the correct answer.
    Red5
    Webmaster, UsingEnglish.com

  2. #2
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    I don't really think there is a past tense of will, but if there was it would be would.

  3. #3
    Anonymous Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    I don't really think there is a past tense of will, but if there was it would be would.

    I agree with that. The only thing I can see that would point to "would" being the past of "will" is in conditional sentences.


    If it rains, I will take an umbrella with me. -conditional number 1 talking about the future

    If I had known it was going to rain, I would have taken an umbrella. -conditional number 3 talking about the past

  4. #4
    Anonymous Guest
    When they lived in Brazil, they would go to the beach almost every day.

    If they go back to Brazil, they will most likely go to the beach once again every day.


    Does this make "would" the past of "will"?

    Beyond this and the conditional examples, I can't see why "would" is the past of "will" necessarily.

    Ideas anyone? Comments?

  5. #5
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    That makes perfect sense.

  6. #6
    Anonymous Guest

    Re: What is the past tense of 'Will'?

    City is correct to point out the use of "would" for past habits. There "would" is similar to "used to".

    He would always go on about his trip to Ulan Bataar.
    (He was an irritant)

    He will go on about his new porsche.
    (He is an irritant)

    We would always go to the mountains in summer when we were young.
    (Habit)

    We would go to the mountains in summer when we were young. (Habit-often a nostalgic statement)


    We will go to the top of the mountain, set up camp, turn off the mobiles and just chill out.
    (again, often with some kind of future reflection-prejection feeling)

  7. #7
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    Re: What is the past tense of 'Will'?

    Quote Originally Posted by cutecanute
    City is correct to point out the use of "would" for past habits. There "would" is similar to "used to".

    He would always go on about his trip to Ulan Bataar.
    (He was an irritant)

    He will go on about his new porsche.
    (He is an irritant)

    We would always go to the mountains in summer when we were young.
    (Habit)

    We would go to the mountains in summer when we were young. (Habit-often a nostalgic statement)


    We will go to the top of the mountain, set up camp, turn off the mobiles and just chill out.
    (again, often with some kind of future reflection-prejection feeling)
    That is a good explanation. Those are, I think, quite good examples.

    What is meant by "reflection-prejection"? (That's a phrase I haven't seem before.)

    Thanks, and welcome to the forum. :D

    8)

  8. #8
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    Re: What is the past tense of 'Will'?

    Hold on.

    How can I select the correct answer if there isn't one?

    The past tense of to will is willed, of course...

  9. #9
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    Post Re: What is the past tense of 'Will'?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rebel View Post
    Hold on.

    How can I select the correct answer if there isn't one?

    The past tense of to will is willed, of course...

    This is truer than some readers may think: the noun "will" is sometimes used as a regular verb (with the past inflexion -ed).

    b

  10. #10
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    Re: What is the past tense of 'Will'?

    Historically speaking, modal auxiliaries are either (for today's purposes) present-tense or past-tense forms 'can-could, may-might, shall-should, will-would', 'ought' is apparently an obsolete past-tense form of 'owe', and I'm not too sure what 'must' is (or was). However, grammarians' inexplicable invention of "future tense" for a future-tenseless Germanic language like English seems all the more mysterious when the example of German stares us clearly in the face. German has obvious "modal infinitive" cognates to the modals of English: 'can-können, may-mögen, must-müssen, shall-sollen, will-wollen', all of which (except 'mögen' usually) may use their present-tense forms for future time reference.

    Kann sie es morgen tun? (Is she able to do it tomorrow?)
    Er soll es morgen tun. (He is supposed to do it tomorrow.)
    Du musst es morgen tun. (You must do it tomorrow.)
    Ich will es morgen tun. (I want to do it tomorrow.)


    It's interesting to note that German 'wollen' is still used for "volition" rather than strict "futurity", as the English main verb and noun 'will' still is.

    He willed the spoon to bend.
    It's a matter of willpower.


    Indeed, as auxiliaries 'will-would' still very much have a "volition"-related use, as mentioned by RonBee.

    George will always whistle tunelessly in the bath.
    George would always whistle tunelessly in the bath until poor old Myrtle started putting arsenic in his rum and coke.
    I wish you wouldn't do that!

    As a matter of interest, where German uses an auxiliary that translates directly as 'will' into English it uses 'werden', which as a main verb means "become".

    Er wird dick. (He's getting fat.)
    Er wird dick werden. (He'll get / He's going to get fat.)

    Calling 'will' "future tense" has created a lot of confusion, since students often seem to fall for the canard that 'will' is future and future is 'will', when nothing could be further from the truth, and commonly use it erroneously as their future-reference default form.

    Be all this as it may, the past of main verb 'will' is 'willed', and the past of present-tense auxiliary 'will' is 'would'.
    Last edited by iconoclast; 26-Aug-2008 at 18:33. Reason: spelling mistakes

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