(Well. I'm not a native English speaker. So my wording may be someway weird.)

In English Future Tense is formed of "will" and bare infinitive and could express the following meanings:

  1. (sb.) is going to do something. or sth. is going to happen.
  2. (sb.) [agrees/is willing] to do something.

And my question is: Do Future Tenses in Latin also serve for expressing 2.? If not, then how is it expressed in Latin?

  • 1
    Welcome to the site! If you want to make sure that we interpret your question correctly, you can always edit it and add a version of the question (or some crucial parts of it) in your native language. There's a decent chance that someone here will understand and help get the English wording right.
    – Joonas Ilmavirta
    Commented Oct 29, 2021 at 22:06
  • Do you mean the English uses such as "the car won't start", "she won't tell me the answer?", or "it will only ring (= it only rings) if you turn it upside down?" Or is there a different non-negative use you have in mind? I suggest always giving example sentences to illustrate what you mean. Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 12:30

1 Answer 1


No, the regular future tense does not indicate willingness.

In Latin, the most basic verb for this purpose is velle together with its cousins nolle and malle. For example, "We don't know what to do about Paul, he won't take his medicine" = De Paulo quid agamus nescimus, medicinam accipere non vult. (If you said: ... non accipiet, you would be making a prediction that would by itself say nothing about Paul's willingness.)

There are other possibilities; for example "I am ready, prepared to do something" could be expressed as: paratus sum + infinitive.

Having said that, there is also the periphrastic future, which on first glance is only a grammatical quirk that lets you work around the problem that there are no future infinitives and subjunctive forms, but on second glance can carry a variety of nuances, including: "... denoting an intention to do something. This intention may arise either from the person's own will , or from outward circumstances ..."

Georges gives the following example:

Caesarine provinciam tradituri fuistis an contra Caesarem retenturi?

... which is probably best translated as:

Were you going to hand the province over to Caesar, or were you going to keep it against Caesar?

(Okay, that's no real future tense, but never mind that.)

Of course that's just a nuance, and it is often unavoidable that talking about the future can be read as talking about willingness; if someone says "Numquam in patriam redibo," then it may be wistful or defiant. Depending on context, it may say something about willingness or not.

  • Thank you for your help!
    – rhodes
    Commented Nov 1, 2021 at 4:24

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