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    • Join Date: Mar 2005
    • Posts: 2

    A Phrasal Verb-To Blame

    Dear Sir or Madam:

    This is my first post. I hope I am welcome here.

    "He is to blame."
    It means that he is the one who should be blamed.
    This is a unique use of "blame," and I cannot say, "He is to censure" nor "he is to fault."
    I made some research on the issue and found two ways to understand it, though they are not convinsing.
    First "blame" is a noun and "to" means "receiving" like in "I lent my car to my brother." I made this sentence modifying from the one in Cambridge Advanced Lerner's Dictionary.
    Second "blame" is a transitive verb and I interpret this as "He is the one to blame," inferring from "I have no one but myself to blame."
    this one is also weak, because I do not think the following two wouldn't be correct; "He is the one to censure" nor "he is the one to fault."

    Now could you explain why just "be to blame" can be interpreted as "to be blamed?"
    I would very much appreciate your input.

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: A Phrasal Verb-To Blame


    EX: He is to blame.

    be to blame for is synonymous with be at fault for. It means, (in a) state of being at fault, and it's an idiomatic expression:

    He is to be given the blame (by us) for what happened.

    "to" is an infinitive marker. It marks the base verb "be", and "blame" is a noun; note the article "the". If we omit the passive verb "be given", the resulting form "to" + "blame" is an infinitive verb in form, and functions as an adjective:

    Q: What is he?
    A: He is (the person) to blame. "to blame" modifies "He"

    We blame him. (active voice)
    He is to be blamed. (passive voice; the accuser is left unsaid)
    He is to blame (active voice, with the accuser left unsaid)

    • Join Date: Mar 2005
    • Posts: 2

    Re: A Phrasal Verb-To Blame

    Casiopea, my apology for my delayed thank-you message.
    I have had a trouble logging in the Forum. Finally it’s solved.

    Anyway, thank you very much for the detailed explanation. Now I have much better understanding on the issue.

    I’d like to have clearer thought and am asking you another questions.
    We should think this way; in ‘to blame,’ the ‘blame’ is a noun from an analytical perspective, but a verb from a structural viewpoint. Am I right?

    I list several sentences and my comments on them:
    He is to blame. à Correct
    He is to censure. à Wrong
    He is to fault. à Wrong

    He has no one but himself to blame. à Correct
    He has no one but himself to censure. à Correct
    He has no one but himself to fault. à Correct

    Then how about these?
    He is the one to blame or he is the one to be blamed.
    He is the one to censure or he is the one to be censured.
    He is the one to fault or he is the one to be faulted.

    Which word should I use, ‘accuse’ or ‘accusation’ in a sentence; he has no one but himself to?

    I found that Shakespeare used ‘to blame’ in The Merchant of Venice.
    <You were to blame, I must be plain with you,
    To part so slightly with your wife's first gift:>
    Act V Scene I
    This usage seems old, but do you know why we use just ‘to blame’ and no others?
    Last edited by DesertLake; 11-Mar-2005 at 07:36.

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