English Grammar


be to + verb

'I am to call' is grammatically incorrect. We cannot use the full infinitive 'to call' preceded by the verb 'to be' conjugated in the present tense.


It's the correction that have been made and I don't understand why.


Indeed, in my book ("grammaire de l'anglais", Le Robert & Nathan) I read, for instance, "you are to check in immediately".


Can anybody tell me what is the right way?


Thank you in advance.

2 comments

  • Hi Guypage,


    'to be to do sth' is a common phrase to express that you are supposed to do something, in the sense: You are compelled to do something, you are expected to do something, you are constrained to do sth.


    For example, when are pulled over (stopped) by the police on the motorway, you are supposed to
    drive onto the shoulder or follow the police to the next resting place. We say 'You are to follow them'.
    = 'You are supposed to follow them' or 'You are obliged to follow them.'


    In another context, for example when you say 'I follow the instructions of the police' in the sense 'I have the habit', 'I usually do', it would grammatically incorrect to put a 'to be' in front of the verb.


    Whether something is grammatically correct or incorrect always depends on the context. A cosntruction like 'to be to do sth.' is totally wrong, provided to want to express a habit, but makes perfect sense in the meaning of 'to be supposed to do sth'.


    I hope I could help you out a little bit.
  • From Whacky:
    Hi Guypage,


    'to be to do sth' is a common phrase to express that you are supposed to do something, in the sense: You are compelled to do something, you are expected to do something, you are constrained to do sth.


    For example, when are pulled over (stopped) by the police on the motorway, you are supposed to
    drive onto the shoulder or follow the police to the next resting place. We say 'You are to follow them'.
    = 'You are supposed to follow them' or 'You are obliged to follow them.'


    In another context, for example when you say 'I follow the instructions of the police' in the sense 'I have the habit', 'I usually do', it would grammatically incorrect to put a 'to be' in front of the verb.


    Whether something is grammatically correct or incorrect always depends on the context. A cosntruction like 'to be to do sth.' is totally wrong, provided to want to express a habit, but makes perfect sense in the meaning of 'to be supposed to do sth'.


    I hope I could help you out a little bit.

     


    Thanks for your answer; I am to understand you.
    best regards,
    Guy

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