When would will work?
Just in case you're interested: This was an alliteration, which
Some of the problems the modal will brings are not obvious on the first sight. The main reason for that is that
will is not obviously a modal.
But back in the good old days...
... which nobody can remember because we are talking about centuries here, the word wyllan still meant something like want to
or wish. In its meaning it was the same like the German wollen and, just like the German word, it was clearly a modal.
Times have changed. What used to be a strong will has degenerated to procrastination, a vague reference into the future.
There are still some uses of the word in modern English reflecting old glamour, like for instance
1. He has a strong will. (describes a positive feature of teachers; usually negative for students)
2. Did he make a (last) will? (a kind of document from an unlucky person that contains your name if you are lucky)
3. We are willing to do it. (describes a kind of readiness; in politics: an empty promise)
4. Come here and help me, will you? (an imperative disguised as a question)
5. What will you have for supper? (choice usually limited by the restaurant's menu and your wallet)
Because in modern English the word will is mainly used to form the future tense, its usage as a modal is
more or less limited to some idiomatic forms. Two of these are found above in sentences
number 4 (e.g. friendly question of a parent that, frankly, does not really leave you the choice
of a negative answer) and
number 5 (e.g. a waiter literally waiting for you to decide on your meal)
The others aren't auxiliaries, but still illustrate the origin of the word-meaning quite nicely.
This is why the table on the previous page had will in brackets: As a real modal it has vanished.
And here a general rule kicks in, which you already know from your experience with partners, problems and pimples:
When one goes, another one comes.
In the case of our disappearing will to express the modal concept of volition this is the phrase want to.
You just use it everywhere this concept comes into play and you are done. It will adjust to all tenses and fit all situations.
Except for the word
This is a real trouble maker and here is my chance to give a fair warning regarding the usage of would (which basically applies to
should and could as well). These forms have one primary function, which is to express the conditional
(a possibility). So I would do it. expresses the possibility that you may be ready to do it; probably under certain
conditions like proper payment.
However, if the context contains some clear indication, preferably a time adverbial, would can
express past tense of want to, like in This morning it was very cold and the engine of my
car would not start.
This is basically the same as ... of my car did not want to start. (As we readily accept that cars tend to develop
their own personality as they get older. Ask mine for details.)
So the bottom line is:
Whenever you want to express volition just stick to want to to be on the safe side.
This means that
I want to have a fast car. gives your family exactly the right message when you discuss your birthday party,
I will have a fast car. points too far into the future (If you want something, you want it NOW!) and
I would have a fast car. is for dreamers and losers only.
All right, now go back to the modals table.