I've been told that native-speakers don't ever use "will" after "if", and that saying it this way is a not-native style.

So from the film (Harry Potter, pt5) I noticed a line that confused me. Look at this:

"Well, if you won't tell her where it is, I will". See that?

What was the necessity of using the future form? What does it add in the meaning? How does it sound to you? Why was namely this sentence used instead of "Well, if you don't tell her where it is, I will"?

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    Can you give an example of something specific you were told is "not-native style"? The sentence you give means "If you won't tell her where it is, I will [tell her where it is]," and is absolutely standard in English. Jun 30, 2014 at 20:14
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    I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours. I don't understand why anyone would tell OP this "rule". Sales staff are always saying things like If you will step this way. Jun 30, 2014 at 20:16
  • I don't really remember where, but I read that using this belongs to a not-native style. As I said already, I guees native speakers would say "Well, if you don't ...". Can you explain the reason of using it that way?
    – Nick
    Jun 30, 2014 at 20:21
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    Is this question about if/well or is it about won't/don't? Won't in your sentence is used to indicate willingness
    – Jim
    Jun 30, 2014 at 20:25
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    @ Nick: I don't see how we can explain a "reason" for some feature of English that doesn't match reality. Presumably there's a reason why someone thought it might be so (or perhaps just why someone else misunderstood something), but that's really just speculation. I'll hazard a guess it's something to do with the fact that If you won't do it implies If you're unwilling to do it, and refuse to change your mind and actually do it. Whereas If you don't do it implies nothing at all about your attitude, or why you might not do it. Jun 30, 2014 at 20:28

3 Answers 3


The rule you have been told has some validity, but is too general.

English speakers don't use a will with simple future meaning after if:

If the plan succeeds, I will come.


*If the plan will succeed, I will come.

But will can also convey intention or willingness, so with an animate subject (especially second person) will can work

If you will come, I will talk to you

meaning something like if you are willing to come.


If you jump, I'll catch you.

is normal, as is

If you fall, I'll catch you.

But while

*If you will fall, I'll catch you.

doesn't make sense,

If you will jump, I'll catch you.

can make sense, with the special meaning of if you are willing to jump - it's an invitation, or a dare.

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    And If you would step this way is just a softened/politer form if If you will step this way.
    – tchrist
    Jun 30, 2014 at 20:56
  • I'm going to the prom with Brandon, if his dad will lend him the car. -- from 2 broken girls.
    – Zhang
    Jul 26, 2019 at 7:31
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    @Zhang: that is an example of what I said: that means "if his dad is willing to lend him the car", not a simple future.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 26, 2019 at 14:24

SUPPLEMENTARY to Colin Fine's answer:
Colin Fine explains the most common use of will in if clauses, which is the use in your example. There are other such situations:

  • when will is used emphatically in its habitual/insistent sense:

    If you will keep bothering me with questions you must expect some answers you don't like.

  • when will is used in the ordinary futurive sense of a future eventuality accepted as factual. This use is often 'echoic', reflecting a previous speaker's use of will:

    ("John will be here tomorrow") —"Well, if John will be here tomorrow we'd better get that presentation done tonight."

  • when will is used to indicate an inherent quality or capacity:

    If your car will hold all of us I don't need to take mine.

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    This is the sort of problem that comes from teaching non-native speakers the myth of numbered conditionals, and perhaps the notion that will is nothing but a marker of the future in English.
    – tchrist
    Jun 30, 2014 at 20:54
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    @tchrist Don't get me started on the n conditionals! I cannot decide which approach is more damaging: teaching half-truths and baby rules, as we used to do with NSs and now do with NNSs, or teaching nothing at all, as we now do with NSs. Jun 30, 2014 at 20:58
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    And the idea that there is such a thing as a future tense in English.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 2, 2014 at 15:28

We do not normally use a pure future will after IF . However, though rare, it is just possible when we wish to emphasize the idea of 'not now, but later'.

If it suits you, I'll change the date of our meeting (Type 1)

If it will suit you, (i.e. not now, but later) I'll change the date of our meeting

  • I am not sure the will in if it will suit you is the use of 'future will'. Do you have a source that says it is? Or can you give other examples? Dec 9, 2016 at 16:13

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