I was in England and I heard that some people use word "will" as non auxiliary verb, in meaning "wish". Have I misheard? If it is true, in which cases can I use "will" as non auxiliary verb?

  • Yes, you can. Keep in mind, however, that the past tense is then willed, not would. An idiom that contains this non-auxiliary usage is to will (something) into existence. Keep in mind that it does not mean wish; to wish for something is to cry into the wind for it, so to speak, whereas to will something is to make it happen by your own ingenuity. – Anonym Jul 29 '14 at 19:06
  • Wow! It's really interesting! But I don't understand the meaning of "to will (something) into existence"? Can you explain or give more examples? Thank you. – Kristina Kurshakova Jul 29 '14 at 19:23
  • To will (something) into existence is usually used sarcastically, to say that more thought than action is being put into something: e.g. he's trying to will his fortune into existence. – Anonym Jul 29 '14 at 19:29
  • @kris - please refer to a good dictionary for the use and definition of will as a verb, the following can help: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/will – user66974 Jul 29 '14 at 19:42
  • Kris, I asked a question about will which might help explain the difference (or confuse you even more!) – Mynamite Jul 29 '14 at 20:10

Will has two distinct meanings as a transitive (non-modal, non-auxiliary) verb. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists one, but not the other. I found the other in the British version of Cambridge Dictionaries Online (http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/british/will_10), although from my experience the meaning is as common in American English as in British English. Here is the dictionary's definition:

will verb (MAKE HAPPEN) /wɪl/ › [+ obj + to infinitive ] If you will something to happen , you try to make it happen by the power of your thoughts : She willed her self to remember his name .

› [I or T] formal to want something: Stay or go, as you will.

These are the two meanings in which you can use 'will' as a non-auxiliary verb (the second use being the same one as mentioned in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary).


Merriam-Webster has it as the first-mentioned use:

transitive verb : desire, wish

That said, it is obviously most often used as an auxiliary verb.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.