I'm struggling a bit with translating the English "She will do X" or "She will be Y" into my mother tongue (German).

Lets say we have the sentence "She will be loved". A native English speaker would probably understand that like "She has a strong desire to be loved" or "She wants to be loved".

Same goes for the sentence "I'll take the steak". If you want to order a steak in the restaurant -- it is not quite future ...

However, we've learned in school that an English sentence like "She will X" expresses the future, similar to "She is going to be loved."

Is there any kind of rule (maybe it depends on the verb after the "will"?) whether "She will" means that she strongly wants something, or that she is going to do something?

  • 2
    Are you learning English or German?... there's is a German language SE that may be more appropriate if you're trying to learn how to say something in German. german.stackexchange.com But I'm not sure that they entertain questions from learners...
    – Catija
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 23:22
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    I'm learning english, respectively, my mother tongue is german. I wasn't quite sure where to post this, too, but as this page is named "English Language Learners" and that's what I am ... I just wanted to know if there are any rules on what exactly is meant by "will" in what case, or if I need to work that out from the context. Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 23:24
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    That's totally fine but it's best for questions to be phrased without attempting to connect them to your native language. It's unlikely that people will understand the German (since many here do not speak German), so it will serve you better to try to understand the concept as well as you can using English only.
    – Catija
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 23:26
  • To better understand the usages of "will" as an auxiliary verb in English, you might start with the definitions and examples here - will.
    – user3169
    Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 0:01
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    The sentence she will be loved usually means she is going to be loved; future. While will sometimes indicates desire, in this case you seem to be trying to impose your native German on English. Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 1:47

3 Answers 3


You are wrong to think that a native English speaker would probably understand She will be loved as She has a strong desire to be loved or She wants to be loved.

The German equivalent of the English She will be loved is Sie wird geliebt werden, not Sie will geliebt werden.

In most cases the German verb wollen (ich will, er will, wir wollen, etc) would be translated into English as want (I want, he wants, we want).

However, it is possible to interpret will in certain questions as shading more towards want or desire than towards a future action. For example:

Will you stay for dinner?

The will in negative constructions such as She won't tell me would normally be interpreted as a refusal rather than as a predicted (non-)action.

Furthermore, will can also refer to the present (habitual) in constructions such as:

She will keep phoning me in the middle of the night.

And will can be used to express probability or certainty in constructions such as:

That'll be the postman! (on hearing a knock on the door)

A good pedagogical grammar book such as Swan's Practical English Usage will help you understand the various uses of the English modal will.

  • Actually, Murphy's Grammar will help Florian, not Swan's. Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 14:44

"She will be loved".

It means that the loving will happen in the future.

Sam says "I'll have the steak."

This is a bit queer. Sam is ordering the steak in the present, but he won't actually get physical possession of the steak until the future.

  • The "I'll have..." Construction is common for expressing wants and desires, especially in restaurants. Commented Oct 31, 2015 at 14:34

Will is typically used for promises and predictions or statements of certainty about the future.

If one says "I will fly to Paris tomorrow." It is not clear from the language that someone wants to do this or has a desire to do that. They are simply making a statement of certainty.

A native speaker would not view the sentence "She will be loved" as her desire for love. It simply means that in the future someone will love her.

In the sentence "I'll have the steak." The speaker is asking a server for steak. This language is common in restaurants and bars. Certainly, without desire, the person won't order the steak, but the language does not say that. "I want a steak." says that.

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