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§ 158. To be toas a modal verb is used in the present and past indefinite tenses.

To be to expresses:


1. An obligation arising out of an arrangement or plan. It is found in statements and questions.


We are to complete this work by tomorrow. (Somebody expects it.)

I am to go down in my car and pick up the parcels.

When is the wedding to be?

When am I to come?

Who is to be the first?

The ship was to dock on Sunday.

I was to meet Mother at the dentist’s at 11.


The last two sentences in which to be is in the past indefinite do not indicate whether the action did or did not take place.

On the other hand this form is the only way to indicate a fulfilled action in the past.


I was to meet Mother at 11 (and I did).

The prize was to honour him for his great discoveries.


To emphasize that the action did not take place the perfect infinitive is used after the past indefinite of the verb to be to.


She was to have graduated in June, but unfortunately fell ill.


The present indefinite may signify an arrangement (especially official) for the future, or referring to no particular time.


The German Chancellor is to visit France.

A knife is to cut with.

2.A strict order or an instruction given either by the speaker or (more usually) by some official authority.


He is to return to Liverpool tomorrow (he has been given orders to return to Liverpool).

You are to stay here until I return (I tell you to ...).

You are to do it exactly the way you are told.


Note the difference betweento be to andto have to:


Soldiers have to salute their officers (such is customary obligation, the general rule).

All junior officers are to report to the colonel at once (an order).

3.Strict prohibition (only in the negative form).


You are not to do that.

You are not to tell anybody about it.

We are not to leave the place until we are told to.

You are not to smoke in this room.

4.Something that is destined to happen or is unavoidable. It corresponds to the Russian суждено, предстоит.


I didn’t know at the time that she was to be my wife (что ей суждено было стать моей женой).

As a young man he didn’t know that he was to become a famous scientist (ему суждено было стать

знаменитым ученым).

If we are to be neighbours for life we should be on friendly terms (если нам предстоит всю жизнь быть


Не was never to see her again (ему больше никогда не суждено было ее увидеть).

It was not to be (этому не суждено было сбыться).


Sometimes it may be translated by the Russian verb хотеть, especially after the conjunction if.


If we are to get there on time, we must start at once (если мы хотим прийти вовремя, надо сразу


5.Impossibility. In negative sentences or in sentences containing words with negative meaning the verb to be to implies impossibility. In this case the passive form of the non-perfect infinitive is used, unless it is a question beginning with the interrogative adverbs how, where.


They are not to be trusted.

Nothing was to be done under the circumstances.

He was nowhere to be found.

Where is the man to be found?

How am I to repay you for your kindness?


This meaning is similar to the meaning of can and may.

Here are some set expressions with the verb to be to:

What am I to do? Что мне делать? Как мне быть?

What is to become of me? Что со мною станется (будет)?

Where am I to go? Куда же мне деваться?


§ 159. The modal verbneed may be either a defective or a regular verb. As a defective verb need has only one form and combines with a bare infinitive. In reported speech it remains unchanged. As a regular verb it has the past indefinite form needed and regular negative and interrogative forms.

There is a slight difference in the usage of regular and irregular forms. The regular form is used mainly when the following infinitive denotes habitual action.

The defective form is more common when one particular occasion is referred to:

Need I do it?

You needn’t do it just now.

The teacher said that we needn’t come.

Do I need to show my pass every time?

You don’t need to say it every time you see him.

Need I show you my pass now?


The defective form is mainly restricted to negative and interrogative sentences, whereas the regular verb can be used in all types of sentences and is therefore more common.

Need expressesnecessity. It is mainly used in questions and negative statements, where it is a replacement for must or for have (got) to.

Do you need to work so hard (do you have to work so hard? Have you got to...).


It corresponds to the Russian нужно.


You needn’t do it now. Сейчас не нужно этого делать.

Need she come tomorrow? Ей нужно завтра приходить?


The negation is not always combined with the verb, but may be expressed by other parts of the sentence.

I don't think we need mention him at all.

I needhardly say that you are to blame.


In questions need is used when there is a strong element of negation or doubt or when the speaker expects a negative answer.

Need she go there? (hoping for a negative answer)

I wonder if I need go there, (statement of doubt)


In negative statements need followed by aperfect infinitive indicates that the action expressed by the infinitive was performed but was not necessary. It implies a waste of time or effort, and is therefore translated by зря, незачем, не к чему было.


You needn’t have spent all the money. Now we've got nothing left.

Зря ты потратил все деньги, не к чему было тратить ... .

We needn’t have waited for her because she never came at all.

Нечего было ее ждать. Она все равно не пришла.


The difference between the two forms of need in negative sentences is as follows: the regular verb indicates that the action was not done because it was unnecessary, whereas the defective verb shows that the action, although unnecessary, was carried out. Compare the following examples:

Didn’t need to do smth = It wasn’t necessary, so probably not done.

We didn’t need to say anything at all, which was a great comfort.

She didn’t need to open the drawer because it was already open.

Needn’t have done smth. = It was not necessary, but done nonetheless.

You needn’t have said anything. Then he would never have known about it.

She needn’t have opened the drawer. She found it empty when she did.

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