A Study on Will as Modal or Non-modal

  • Received : 20120600
  • Published : 2012.09.30


The purpose of this article is to explain the meanings and uses of the English auxiliaries will morpho-syntactically, and answer the question of whether will is a tense auxiliary or a modal one. Some writers even exclude will completely from the semantics of the modal auxiliaries. They argue that the semantics of will is fundamentally non-modal and has only a few modal-like uses. There are some people who treat will to be semantically separate from the other modal auxiliaries. In the light of modal will, the semantics of will basically remains anchored in volition because the lack of required speaker subjectivity, but has undergone so much semantic bleaching that it may also express future time without volition. On the other hand, the semantics of will in the exclusionist view is erroneous and that its semantics is in fact closely related to the semantics of the other modals. This view reinforces the argument that the morpho-syntactic kinship of will, can, may and must also reflects semantic kinship. It is suggested that all the modal auxiliaries show that the correspondence relation is non-verified but potential. And the specific place that will holds is that the correspondence is unverified at the time of utterance but will turn out to become verified. The overall conclusion is that idiosyncratic morpho-syntax shared by the modals reflects the semantics and pragmatics of the English modal auxiliaries and is forced also to include will.