We can use "will" to express that something is habitual or factual.

Does this kind of usage have negative forms?

Example 1

Water will boil at a lower temperature at a higher altitude.

Example 2

Water will not boil at a higher temperature at a higher altitude.

Example 3

Tom will get home before sunrise at the weekends.

Example 4

Tom won't get home before sunrise at the weekends.

  • 1
    Yes, you can definitely use "will" and its negative form "won't" to talk about negative habits or facts. All of your example sentences are grammatically correct.
    – Emre Bener
    Mar 23 at 6:31
  • 1
    Things will not burn in a nitrogen atmosphere; cardboard will not stop bullets; my cat will not eat iron filings. Mar 23 at 7:55
  • 2
    I'm no physicist, but (2) doesn't make sense to me (though it is grammatical). The point of sentence (1) is that it takes less heat to boil water at high altitudes, not that it won't continue boiling at a higher temperature. Mar 23 at 9:16

1 Answer 1


Examples 1 and 2 are correct: this is the use of will to express "propensities." It is particularly common when you can also express the same idea using a conditional. You can do so in this case: "if you are at a higher altitude, water will boil at a lower temperature." That aside, you can also use the simple present here.

Examples 3 and 4 are also correct. These are harder to rephrase as conditionals, so if you're describing Tom's ongoing tendencies or propensities, the simple present would be somewhat preferred. That said, you could use these sentences to describe Tom's decision to go home before sunrise in the future. This is the use of will to describe "volition."

(My source for this is Huddleston & Pullum (2002), chapter 3, §9.5.1-2.)

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