Degree of unwillingness: especially "won't"

Brave Heart

Senior Member
Japan, Japanese
Hi all,

Somehow, I have a feeling that "won't" might indicate a slightly stronger unwillingness than "will not" does. Is there any validity in my feeling?

In addition, could you tell me the degree of unwillingness by comparing the following sentences?

I have no intention to do it.
I'm not going to do it.
I won't do it.
I will not do it.
I would not do it.
I will never do it
I would never do it.

Thanks. :)
 
  • cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Somehow, I have a feeling that "won't" might indicate a slightly stronger unwillingness than "will not" does. Is there any validity in my feeling? Maybe. Please provide full sample sentences.
    The strength of one term or the other may change with context.

     

    Musical Chairs

    Senior Member
    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    It depends on the tone too. "I WON'T" do it and "I will NOT do it" are pretty strong to me.

    Edit: There are slight differences in meaning in some of your sentences above (not just a question of degrees of unwillingness).
     

    perfavore

    Senior Member
    USA
    Philippines - Tagalog
    Hi all,

    Somehow, I have a feeling that "won't" might indicate a slightly stronger unwillingness than "will not" does. Is there any validity in my feeling?

    In addition, could you tell me the degree of unwillingness by comparing the following sentences?

    I have no intention to do it.
    I'm not going to do it.
    I won't do it.
    I will not do it.
    I would not do it.
    I will never do it
    I would never do it.

    Thanks. :)
    Hi,
    I never thought of any difference between in degree of unwillingness between "I won't" and "I will not". However, if you really press the issue, I will have to vote for "I will not" because saying the phrase in full instead of contracting it indicates an intention that you are trying to make your feelings very clear to the other person. I will try to arrange your unwilling phrases in descending order:
    1. I have no intention to do it. (more words = angrier?/clearer)
    2. I will never do it. (never makes it sound strong)
    3. I'm not going to do it. (gives an aspect of time and more words)
    4. I will not do it.
    5. I would never do it. (never is strong but would is always a soft word for me, like could/should)
    6. I would not do it.
    7. I won't do it.

    Well, remember, this is my opinion. Others may think differently. I hope your next question is shorter. Assuming also that the volume of voice and the facial expressions remain constant for each phrase.
    perfavore
     

    tanager

    Senior Member
    US/English
    Yes, context and intonation is all-important. I will say this, though: as a general principle, contractions are used by native speakers automatically unless they are giving a special emphasis to their words, for example, in the measured speech of anger.
     

    Brave Heart

    Senior Member
    Japan, Japanese
    Please provide full sample sentences.
    The strength of one term or the other may change with context.
    OK. Is the following enough?

    A: Can you do the laundry for me?

    B: No, I have no intention to do it.
    B: No, I'm not going to do it.
    B: No, I won't do it.
    B: No, I will not do it.
    B: No, I would not do it.
    B: No, I will never do it
    B: No, I would never do it.
     

    Musical Chairs

    Senior Member
    Japan & US, Japanese & English
    In all honesty, I think it really depends on how you say it (which words you stress and your tone).

    For example:

    "I won't do it" and "I will not do it" in a monotone, robotic voice would mean the same.
    "I WON'T do it" is stronger than "I will not do it" (robotic voice).
    "I will NOT do it" is stronger than "I won't do it" (robotic voice).
     

    perfavore

    Senior Member
    USA
    Philippines - Tagalog
    Yes, context and intonation is all-important. I will say this, though: as a general principle, contractions are used by native speakers automatically unless they are giving a special emphasis to their words, for example, in the measured speech of anger.
    That's precisely what I mean. Sometimes, the angrier we are the more we emphasize each word since we don't want to keep repeating ourselves.

    perfavore
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Don;'t look at the words, hear the voice. Which "sounds" more adamant to you?

    "Never! I would never do your laundry. Not now. Not ever."

    I hear that and I am convinced that I should ask someone else to do my laundry.
     
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