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What Part of Speech Is the Word “Will?”

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This post will cover everything you need to know about the word “will,” including its several definitions. We’ll explain what part of speech it belongs to and review helpful example sentences.

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The word “will” has more definitions than you may think.
“Will”: Quick Summary

Will has many different meanings and uses. It can function as both a main verb and auxiliary verb, but can also be used as a noun.

  • I had to will my body to stay awake so I could finish the project on time.
  • She will help me move the desk when she gets back home.
  • I always tell my clients it’s never too early to write a will.

“Will” Has Multiple Meanings and Uses

At face value, will seems like a simple word. But look it up in any online dictionary, and you’ll see that this seemingly straightforward term is quite complex. But don’t get overwhelmed because this blog post will simplify this word by going over the foundational knowledge you should have to always use it correctly without memorizing each of its definitions.

The first thing you should know about will is that it can function as a verb or noun. We’ll elaborate on this below.

Meme shows a confused Will Smith with text that reads "When you find out will can be used as both a verb and a noun."
Don’t worry; we’ll clear up any confusion.

Using “Will” as a Verb

There are main verbs, and there are auxiliary verbs; will can function as both. Let’s start with using will as a modal auxiliary verb, which is its most common function.

An auxiliary verb (or helping verb) assists the main verb (or the primary verb that carries the meaning of the action) by providing additional insight about it. Specifically, modal auxiliary verbs indicate possibility, ability, necessity, permission, and obligation.

As a modal auxiliary verb, will expresses futurity.

She will play the leading role in the school play.

The use of the word will in the sentence above expresses a future event. Will is also often used to express:

A command

You will do as I say.

Desire, willingness, or consent

Yes, I will clean the dishes.

Customary or habitual actions

Sometimes I will get grumpy when I’m hungry, other times I forget to eat.


Heartbreaks will happen; they’re a part of life.


The cooler will hold about 35 cans.

Will can also be synonymous with desire or wish, as demonstrated in the following examples.

Do what you will, but I’m leaving.

Do what you wish, but I’m leaving.

Do what you desire, but I’m leaving.

Now that we’ve reviewed will as an auxiliary verb, let’s go over its use as a main verb.

As a main verb, will means “to cause or change something through mental resilience.”

The team strongly believed they could will themselves to success.

In simpler terms, will means deliberately or voluntarily choosing to do something.

Tomorrow, I must will myself to wake up early to catch the sunrise.
Please Note

When used as a modal auxiliary verb, the past tense of will is would.

  • She told me she would be late to class.

As a main verb, the past tense of will is willed.

  • I willed myself to finish the book even though I wasn’t enjoying it.

This is all you need to know about using will as a verb. Now, let’s go over its usage as a noun.

Using “Will” as a Noun

When used as a noun, will has multiple meanings.

Will can refer to a legal document containing instructions on what to do with someone’s estate after their passing.

My grandma didn’t prepare a will, so my mother and her siblings decided to divide everything she left behind evenly.

Will can also refer to:

“One’s control or ability to do something or restrain one’s impulses”

My friend’s all say I have an iron will because I usually skip dessert.

“A desire or wish, or what somebody wants to happen in a particular situation”

His will is for all his employees to truly respect and appreciate the company they work for.

Using “Will” Correctly In Your Writing

Remember, will can function as a:

  • Modal auxiliary verb
  • Main verb
  • Noun

If you want additional assistance as you familiarize yourself with this word, make sure to use LanguageTool as a spell, grammar, and punctuation checker. This advanced, multilingual writing assistant will detect any errors while optimizing your word choice and style. Go ahead and give it a try. You will not regret it!

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