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The word will has a lot of definitions as an auxiliary verb, but I can't pin down which definition it uses in sentences like the following:

  • Even though the plot was awful, I'll admit that it was fun to watch.
  • I'll concede that point, but what about my other argument?
  • I will say, though, that I didn't hate the trip.
  • Good effort, I'll give you that.

I find it hard to believe that will is being used to indicate future tense here because the quote has already been said and the speaker has no intention of saying it again at a later time.

For example, in "Even though the plot was awful, I'll admit that it was fun to watch," the words "fun to watch" have already been spoken with no intention of repeating them later.

  • 2
    Will can be used to indicate the speaker's will, unsurprisingly. It can usually be replaced with to be willing, but will alone is less cumbersome and more elegant; after all, the former is derived from the latter. – Anonym May 10 '15 at 3:40
  • Good question. I am also interested in why I will say, though, that I didn't enjoy the trip sounds better than the contracted form I'll say, though, that I didn't enjoy the trip. What makes this sentence different from the others? – Shoe May 10 '15 at 6:50
  • @Shoe Will is a critical word in that sentence. Creating a contraction out of it removes it and the underlying meaning (discussed in my answer below) is distorted. – Adam May 10 '15 at 7:48
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Will here satisfies sense 2 from oxford

used for showing that somebody is willing to do something

I'll check this letter for you, if you want

I'll admit that it was entertaining” fits this usage.

Will doesn't always have to indicate future tense.

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At first glance it's easy to think these are using will as a future-tense verb, but in cases like these, will is a substitute for am willing to which is present tense.

  • Even though the plot was awful, I am willing to admit that it was fun to watch.
  • I am willing to concede that point, but what about my other argument?
  • I am willing to say, though, that I didn't hate the trip.
  • Good effort, I am willing to give you that.

But if you really think about it, we now have a phrase that isn't future tense itself, but instead we have a phrase that is referring to the future. To say you are willing to do something is to say you will (the word we replaced) do something if the time or situation comes in the future... But you're still talking in present tense.

  • So, would you say that it matches merriam-webster's definition of will as in "—used to express desire, choice, willingness, consent, or in negative constructions refusal <no one would take the job> <if we will all do our best> <will you please stop that racket>?" – Joe May 10 '15 at 6:48
  • @Joe Yes, that definition fits well here. When you say you will admit something (Example 1), you are expressing willingness to admit and you are making the choice to do so. – Adam May 10 '15 at 7:52
  • Does the "will" in "I'll concede that point, but what about my other argument?" have that meaning too? When would the actual action of "conceding" take place? This sentence particularly troubles me because I can reword it as "I concede that point, but what about my other argument?" and the meaning still feels the same. – Joe May 10 '15 at 8:07
  • @Joe The will in "I will concede..." has the same meaning. The verb, will is present tense, but the action of conceding is what's being referred to. The last paragraph of my answer discusses this issue. The conceding technically takes place in the future, but since will is present tense, the action takes place at the present time. – Adam May 10 '15 at 8:20
  • Except "I am willing to concede that point, but what about my other argument?" and "I concede that point, but what about my other argument?" are two very different sentences. One says that a person has a potential to do something while the other narrates an action as it is being done. Wikipedia has something on this where it states "In providing a commentary on events as they occur" in this article. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uses_of_English_verb_forms#Simple_present – Joe May 10 '15 at 8:33

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