“Will” can be used to express a <spontaneous> decision or offer for the future decided now

Tenacious Learner

Senior Member
Spanish
Hello teachers,
I know tones of definitions and examples have been said about the use of 'will' as future.
I just would like to know if the word 'spontaneous' is necessary or mandatory for the following definition or it can be left out without any damage to the definition? I personally think 'spontaneous' will perfectly fit with 'offer' a 'spontaneous offer'. I'm not so sure using it with the word 'decision'.

Definition:
“Will” can be used to express a spontaneous decision or offer for the future decided now, at the moment of speaking and not before.

Spontaneous decision
Situation: John and Mary are in a restaurant.
John: I am going to go to New York next Friday morning.
Mary: Well then, I‘ll come too. I still have a couple of vacation days left.

Spontaneous offer
Situation: Mrs. Elsie and Peter are at home.
Mrs. Elsie: Oh, my. There’s no milk in the fridge.
Peter: Really? In that case, I’ll go and get some.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    Obviously the word "spontaneous" changes the definition (and the definition is correct as it is). I don't really understand what's troubling you here.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Yes, "decided now" is not as clear as "spontaneous" for this definition. I may have been thinking something over for some time, and suddenly come to a decision, or "decide now and not before" what I should do - that would not really be "spontaneous".

    "Spontaneous" is just the right word to describe a decision taken on the spur of the moment.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Will can be used of decisions that have been a long time coming, and not spur-of-the-moment. We have been talking about this for three days now and it is time for a decision. We will appoint Mr Smith.
     

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Yes, "decided now" is not as clear as "spontaneous" for this definition. I may have been thinking something over for some time, and suddenly come to a decision, or "decide now and not before" what I should do - that would not really be "spontaneous".

    "Spontaneous" is just the right word to describe a decision taken on the spur of the moment.
    Hello velisarius,
    Thank you for your reply. Crystal clear. :thumbsup:

    TL
     

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Will can be used of decisions that have been a long time coming, and not spur-of-the-moment. We have been talking about this for three days now and it is time for a decision. We will appoint Mr Smith.
    Hello se16teddy,
    Thank you for your comment. It's true, but what I'm trying to do here is just to write a guideline for the differences between 'will' and 'be going to' through very simple definitions.
    There will always be exceptions to the rules or guidelines. I do not want to achieve the best one, quite impossible, jus to arrive in the nearest town. ;)

    TL
     
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    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    Will can be used of decisions that have been a long time coming, and not spur-of-the-moment.
    I agree with Teddy. Also, "going to" can be used to express a spontaneous decision.

    In your 'spontaneous decision' example, TL, Mary could just as well have said "Well then, I'm going to come too", especially as that would echo, and match, John's own words. The choice of wording here isn't related to spontaneity, but (for me) "am going to" expresses greater determination than "will" in this situation.

    In the 'spontaneous offer' example, Peter might equally say "Really? In that case, I’m going to go and get some", particularly if he rose from his seat or turned towards the door as he made his offer. In this case, I see "am going to" as reflecting the immediateness of his intended action, not the spontaneity of his offer. "I'll go and get some", while spontaneously offered, might mean that he'll do it later.

    I don't think this a case of exceptions, but of two possibilities ("will" and "be going to") that both occur frequently, independently of spontaneity. So I'm not sure what guideline you're proposing there, TL, for the difference between "will" and "be going to".:confused:

    Ws
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    What you quoted is one of the many ways in which "will" can be used. It is not intended to be a guide on how to detect that this is in fact the way "will" is being used, nor is it intended to be a guide on when using "will" is a better choice that some other phrasing. The guideline you are looking for simply doesn't exist - any slight nuances between different forms is completely wiped out by other factors such as the context, the tone of voice, the dialect of English being used, etc.
     

    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    @Glasguensis : :thumbsup:

    @Tenacious Learner : TL, you're certainly living up to your forum name!:p I see you've raised this subject many times in numerous threads over the last two-and-a-half years. Each time, you've taken a different sample sentence and obtained native speakers' opinions about that particular example. You've then tried to extrapolate those opinions into a general 'guideline' about the difference between "will" and "be going to" — and native speakers have told you that that's not valid.

    You still seem to be clinging (tenaciously;)) to your desire to put these two forms into categories involving plans, predictions, promises, spontaneous decisions and offers, formal future situations, ... (combined with factors such as visual evidence, previous information, opinion, experience, ...).

    I know it might be hard to abandon a 2½-year project, but I have to agree with Glasguensis that ...
    The guideline you are looking for simply doesn't exist
    Ws
    [Edit: Added last 3 paras.]
     
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    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    There is also the effect of the numerous other tools we use to refer to the future. My feeling is that the structure will/may/must + be + verb + -ing, when used to refer to future events, is marked as "already decided in the past". Will + verb is not marked in this way, and it might sometimes be confusing to use it of plans and decisions that are already set in stone.
     
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    Wordsmyth

    Senior Member
    Native language: English (BrE)
    I think, Teddy, that that underlines the point about general observations (and I say this in case anyone's tempted to find a guideline there;)). What you say is undoubtedly true in some cases, but there are plenty of others where I don't see it. For example:

    - "It's been good talking to you, but I must be going", or "Don't miss the bus, or you'll be walking home": I don't see any element of 'already decided in the past' in such cases.

    - "John will take the car, and he'll pick Mary up on the way. I'll come by bus." That sounds like a pretty firm plan to me, and the decision could well have been made at some earlier time.
    - "You will do your homework before dinner, Johnny, as we agreed." That seems fairly set in stone (unless Johnny wants to go hungry).

    ... etc.

    Ws
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Languages are always ambiguous, and perhaps never more so than when we use modal verbs. If someone says "I will be going" out of context, it is impossible to know whether "be going" is meant to convey "already decided" or if it indicates continuous or imperfective aspect, or maybe just adds a nuance of hesitancy or courtesy; and no doubt there are other possible meanings we have not yet identified. Similarly, if someone says "I will go" out of context, it is impossible to know whether the simple form indicates a spontaneous decision, or perfective aspect, or an intention to take control of the situation, or just that the speaker has not bothered to consider these possible nuances.
     
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