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I have been looking at various explanations and definitions all over the Internet, but they seem mutually exclusive and quite chaotic.

One explanation I got is that 要 generally means “going to”, somethin may or may not happen, while 将要 means that something is “about to” or “bound to” happen (making it similar to English “will”). Some sources, however, say that you can just use 将 instead of 将要 – yet another one indicates you can shorten 将要 into just 要. Some people of forums have suggested this is just a difference in register or formality. And then there's 会 and 将会.

So, what is the difference (if there is any) between all of those?

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将 + [v] = will [v]/ will [v] soon

Example: 将死 = will die/ will die soon

~

要 + [v] = need to [v]

要 + [v] = about to [v]

Example: 要死 = need to die

Example: 快要死了/ 要死了 = about to die

~

会 + [v] = would [v]/ could [v]

Example: 如果这样做的话,你会死 = if you do that, you would die /could die

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将要 = will happen (inevitably)/ on the verge of

Example: 将要取胜 = on the verge of winning

A general wrote in his war report saying: '将要取胜', it means he is on the verge of victory (it is inevitable).

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将会 = will happen (most likely)/ would happen/ could happen

Example: 将会取胜 = will win/ would win/ could win

A general wrote in his war report saying: '将会取胜'. It either means the general has confidence that he will win the war, or the general predicts a victory (suggests it is highly possible).

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Watch out for 要, sometimes it just means 'if': 你要碰见他,替我问声好。
and sometimes it is used to express 'either ..... or' 要就同意,要就不同意,别模棱两可。

Watch out for 将 it sometimes subtitutes for 把(I miss that very often!): 将某物一分为二。
会 has a a lot of uses too, not just as a way to indicate future. It may mean 能: 会做饭的人

I just want to say, if you see a Chinese sentence with 要 or 将 or 会, it does not automatically follow that this sentence refers to the future. As always, this depends on the context.

These 将要 sentences can't be successfully translated with 'will' or 'going to', although they refer to the future:

谁知道总统将要面临什么?
想到将要无所事事,他就非常害怕。
将要做的事情列出来,然后决定其优先顺序。

  • 将要做的事情列出来 --->? you mean 把還沒做的事列出來? This is not an example of 將要. Otherwise your summary is well put! – Violapterin Mar 31 '17 at 16:37
  • Thanks for these examples! :) I know it has been some time since you posted, but I wanted to ask you a follow-up question. Does 要 have to be interpreted as "if" in the first example: "你要碰见他…"? I have trouble deciphering this sentence (Google not helpful), but to my beginner's mind it seems as "when you A, do Y" rather than an if-statement. In any case, could you elaborate on that example? – MrVocabulary Apr 20 '17 at 13:27
  • You could write: 你要 – Pedroski Apr 20 '17 at 22:54
  • 碰见 means 'bump into, meet by accident' It is a bit weird to write, "If you want to meet him by accident, ..." so I don't like "你要碰见他…?" You could write: "要是你碰见他的话, ..... ......" meaning "If you bump into him, ..." 要是 。。。的话 work together as 'if'. "你要见他吗?" means "Do you want to see him?" “你要看见他的话最好你6点回来吧。 means "If you want to see him, it's best if you come back a 6 o'clock." Forget google, get a Chinese gf! (But watch out, they can be very bossy!) – Pedroski Apr 20 '17 at 23:10
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这几个词都可以表示在未来会发生的事情,需结合上下文关系来理解。例如:将 可以是将要的意思,但和‘军’组成词语‘将军’就是general的意思了。再比如:要 1)可以是打算做什么的意思。我要去散步。I'm going to take a walk.2)也可以是want的意思 我要一栋大房子。I want a big house. 建议不要太在意每一个字的意思,多结合词语、词组和整句话以及上下文关系来理解。

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将 is more formal. 要 and 会 seems interchangeable. They are all (将, 要 and 会) common in both colloquial and formal writings.

They all have other meanings. 将 is originally "to bring, to take"; 要 to want to; 会 to meet. (Compare English "may", which has meaning "to be allowed to" and "possibly to")

将要 and 将会 seem to be old-fashioned and less common. Since they are redundant, you may want not to use them.

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