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    #1

    are to be/must be

    "For tax purposes, two types of companies are to/must be distinguished."

    What would you say is the difference between "are to be" and "must be"?

    Thanks!

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    #2

    Re: are to be/must be

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    "For tax purposes, two types of companies are to/must be distinguished."

    What would you say is the difference between "are to be" and "must be"?
    That is a difficult question; you may well find that you get conflicting answers on this thread.

    My own feeling is that in this sentence, the writer is imposing on the reader an obligation to distinguish.. when s/he uses must.

    F R Palmer writes that is to may:

    1. [...] refer to future events that are planned or arranged. (unlikely in your example)
    2. [...] be used in what seem to be a pure future sense. (also unlikely)
    3.[...] refer to what is reasonable or possible. (also unlikely)
    4. [...] give or relay commands or instructions. (My underlining; that seems to fit: instructions)

    Palmer, F R (1979) Modality and the English Modals (2nd edn, 1990), London: Longman

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    #3

    Re: are to be/must be

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    That is a difficult question; you may well find that you get conflicting answers on this thread.

    My own feeling is that in this sentence, the writer is imposing on the reader an obligation to distinguish.. when s/he uses must.

    F R Palmer writes that is to may:

    1. [...] refer to future events that are planned or arranged. (unlikely in your example)
    2. [...] be used in what seem to be a pure future sense. (also unlikely)
    3.[...] refer to what is reasonable or possible. (also unlikely)
    4. [...] give or relay commands or instructions. (My underlining; that seems to fit: instructions)

    Palmer, F R (1979) Modality and the English Modals (2nd edn, 1990), London: Longman
    So, in other words, "are to be" and "must be" can mean the same; however, "must be" is less ambiguous.

    Thanks.

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    #4

    Re: are to be/must be

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    So, in other words, "are to be" and "must be" can mean the same; however, "must be" is less ambiguous.
    I'd say they have similar meanings, not the same.
    In context, is to is not particularly ambiguous. I have perhaps made it appear so in my first response, because I gave four of Palmer's explanations. I was immediately able to rule out three of them, as indeed would most native speakers. These explantions probably wouldn't even enter our minds with your example.

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    #5

    Re: are to be/must be

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I'd say they have similar meanings, not the same.
    In context, is to is not particularly ambiguous. I have perhaps made it appear so in my first response, because I gave four of Palmer's explanations. I was immediately able to rule out three of them, as indeed would most native speakers. These explantions probably wouldn't even enter our minds with your example.
    So "are to be" probably wouldn't be correct in the example I gave because no instructions are being given. Rather, the author meant to make a general statement regarding the distinction of companies for tax purposes.

    Thanks!

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    #6

    Re: are to be/must be

    Without any wider context, it looks a bit like a question of simply applying the definition of the company types rather than an obligation, so couldn't Palmer #3 also apply?

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    #7

    Re: are to be/must be

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    Without any wider context, it looks a bit like a question of simply applying the definition of the company types rather than an obligation, so couldn't Palmer #3 also apply?
    I have looked at it again, and I think you are right. Thanks.

    Sorry, Jasmin - I originally said that Palmer #3 was unlikely.

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    #8

    Re: are to be/must be

    If I'm not mistaken, in #3 Palmer is saying that "is to" can mean "may be."

    For tax purposes, two types of companies are to be distinguished = two types of companies may be distinguished; it is possible to distinguish two types of companies

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    #9

    Re: are to be/must be

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    If I'm not mistaken, in #3 Palmer is saying that "is to" can mean "may be."
    I think so. Palmer's actual words are, "Present and past forms of IS TO are used to refer to what is reasonable or possible, in a sense very much like that of CAN (5.4.2)"

    In the earlier section to which he refers (5.4.2), he writes (of example sentences he has used), "MAY (may or might) could equally occur with little change of meaning".

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