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Wish, would, wouldn't, will

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wish

I could see he was angry but he wouldn’t tell me what was wrong.

I invited him to the party but he wouldn’t come.

If you use wouldn’t in this way, it is softer in tone and sounds more natural than saying refused to.

would = insisted on

The converse of wouldn’t is when, would indicates that someone insisted on doing something.

You WOULD go and tell her about the party, wouldn’t you? You know I didn’t want her to know about it.

She said you were unhelpful? Well, she WOULD say that, wouldn’t she?

We can use would like this when we are being critical of someone’s past actions or behaviour. Note that it has to carry strong word stress when it is used in this way.

won’t / will

In a similar way, will can be used to talk about insistence when it relates to present situations:

If you WILL eat so much, it’s not surprising that you’re fat.

If you WILL decline the Invitation to Muriel’s wedding, there’s nothing I can do to stop you.

Note that this is one of the few occasions when will is used in the if-clause in conditional sentences.

Like wouldn’t for past situations, won’t can be used to talk about refusal when it relates to present situations:

I can’t get these pictures to download. I keep clicking on this icon, but they won’t download.

It’s no good trying to persuade him. He won’t go and that’s that.

Note that shan’t can be used in the first person as an alternative to won’t in this sense:

She’s invited me many times. But I shan’t go.

She’s invited me many times, but I won’t go to her wedding.

wish… would

We can also use wish with would and other modal verbs to express refusal combined with regret. Note that although we use past modal forms, the reference is to the present and future, here, not to the past:

I wish it would stop raining, but it just carries on. It’s been raining for days.

Don’t you wish this holiday might last forever? We’ve been having such a marvellous time!

I wish I could give up smoking, but I can’t.

I wish those two would shut up. They’ve been arguing like that for hours.

Everybody wishes he would stay away from June, but he won’t.

Note that to express regret about something which happened in the past, we can use wish with could have + past participle:

I wish we could have seen the match live, but we just couldn’t get tickets.

I wish my dad could have been here to see me play, but he couldn’t leave my mum.