'Will you + infinitive' expresses a request,order or instruction.

E.g:1. Will you do something for me.(request)

But I want to know when will is placed before a third person or first person subject in questions, what does it express?

For example:2.Will he do something for me?
                     3.Will I do something for him?

(Does will imply a request,order or instruction too when it's used in question with third person and first person subject? )

1 Answer 1


This construction usually implies a request, and your examples are all correct English. But depending on the context and the speaker's tone, it can convey anything from a polite request to an angry order.

Of course, "Will I do something for him?" sounds more like the speaker genuinely doesn't know what he/she will do, or that he/she is asking a rhetorical question not meant to be answered (or whose answer is already known).

For example:

  • Will you lend me a hundred dollars?

  • Will I lend you a hundred dollars? You already owe me fifty!

The second question isn't a question at all; it's a sarcastic rhetorical question whose answer is already known.

By the way, it sounds more polite to say "Would you" or "Could you" do something. "Will you" can easily sound like an order depending on the context. I might be slightly offended if someone said to me:

Will you close the door? It's freezing in here.

The implication is that I'm too stupid or inconsiderate to close the door despite the cold weather.

But either of these would sound more polite to me:

Would you close the door? It's freezing in here.

Could you close the door? It's freezing in here.

I don't know why, but the subjunctive mood usually sounds "softer" and more polite, probably because it implies a possibility instead of something definite.

  • What about the third person subjects? What does 'will he do sth for me?' express?
    – Dinusha
    Jan 4, 2015 at 4:34
  • It's a question, not a request, because if he were there, you'd say "Will you do something for me?" You can't request something of someone who's not present. Now, if you wanted to request him to do something and he's not in the room, then you'd tell someone, "Ask him if he would do something for me." Or, in keeping with our topic, "Will you ask him if he would do something for me?"
    – oaker
    Jan 4, 2015 at 5:09

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