Willingness is often defined as "the quality of being willing." Does that mean that it's the same as "being willing"? We can say sentences like "Bob's best quality is his willingness to do what's right" which would suggest that they are the same, and phrases like "act of breaking glass" suggest that too. However, if I were to rephrase sentences like "he has the willingness to try new things" to "he has the being willing to try new things", the latter sentence seems wrong.

  • The rephrasing of rthe sentence you mention, "He has the willingness to try new things", is "He has the quality of being willing to try new things". Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 22:24

1 Answer 1


Willingness is a noun while being willing is more like a verb and is in the progressive tense. If, for example, we use "stand" as a verb and "road" as a noun, we could have the following examples:

Bob stands on the road. [correct]
Bob roads on the stand. [not correct]

In other words, willingness (noun) is "the quality of being willing" while being willing (verb) is "having willingness".

  • By "being willing" I meant the gerund. It doesn't really have anything to do with the progressive tense.
    – Joe
    Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 9:28
  • In that case, I might suggest reversing the two words, making "willing-being" (which is really just a different way of writing "willingness"). Generally speaking, when a compound noun is constructed, the root is at the end while the modifiers come before. This comes from the Germanic roots of English, where for example kindergarten is made of Garten (garden) modified by Kinder (children).
    – Michael
    Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 9:54

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