English grammar: How to use "will"

We can use "will" to talk about the future. We also use will to make predictions, talk about decisions, and to make promises, offers, requests and threats.

Grammar rules

"Will" and the negative form "will not" or "won't" is a modal auxiliary verb.

This means that there is no s on the third person singular, and that it is followed by the infinitive:

I will leave later.
You will leave later.
He / she will leave later.
We will leave later.
They will leave later.

Note: "will" is often abbreviated to 'll in spoken English:

"I'll leave later."
"He'll leave later."

To make the question form, change the word order:

"You will leave later" = "Will you leave later?"

(For more information on the grammar of modal auxiliary verbs, see our page on how to use "can".)

Using will

Here are some of the ways we use will:

1. To talk about the future

We can often use "will" + infinitive without "to" to refer to future events. This is often called the "pure" future:

"I'll be back later tonight – don't bother making me dinner."
"I'm busy right now – I'll call you tomorrow."

2. To make predictions

We also use "will" to talk about what we think will happen in the future.

"I think it'll rain tonight."
"I'm sure he'll be a successful lawyer one day."

Note: for "negative" predictions, make the "think" negative, not the "will":

"I don't think it'll rain tonight" (Not "I think it won't rain tonight.")

3. To make decisions

When we make decisions at the same time as we speak, we use "will".

For example, in a restaurant:

Waiter: "What would you like to eat?"
Customer: "I think I'll have the chicken."

Other examples:

"I'm cold. I think I'll put the heater on."
"Look, that's my bus. I'll catch up with you later."

4. To make promises, offers, requests and threats

These are some other ways we can use "will" in English.

Promises: "I'll help you with your homework tomorrow."
Offers: "I'll look after the children for you if you like."
Requests: "Will you tell Tony I called?"
Threats: "If you cheat again, I'll tell the teacher."

(Some of the examples above also show conditional sentences. For more grammar information on conditionals, see our page on If sentences.)

Will exercise

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