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  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    He was the only student to pass the exam....

    I think 'to infinitive' generally has future meaning.

    For example,

    s1. I have no friends to help me.
    -> I have no friends that can help me.

    However,

    s2. He is the only student to pass the exam.

    In the case of s2, it means that he was the only student that passed the exam. (He passed the exam.)
    But I think it can also be translated he was the only student that could pass the exam. (He didn't take the exam yet but he had the potential to pass the exam.)

    Can s2 be translated both meanings? Should it be translated depending on contexts?
    Or should s2 be translated for one meaning?

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: He was the only student to pass the exam....

    I think you need to abandon the idea that it applies to future.

    s2 does not mean that he hasn't taken it yet and has the potential to pass it in the future. We don't know how many took it, but they all failed and he passed.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. Junior Member
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    #3

    Re: He was the only student to pass the exam....

    Thank you for your quick and kind reply.

    So, if we need to talk about second situation, should we use relative clause rather than infinitive?

    such as "He is the only student that would be able to pass the exam."

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: He was the only student to pass the exam....

    I don't know that you have to choose between a relative clause and an infinitive.
    He's the only student who can yet pass the exam.
    He's the only student with the abilty to pass the exam.
    He's the only student who still has a chance of passing.
    He's the only student with the possibility of passing.
    He may end up being the only student to pass the exam.

    There are many ways you can say that.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  5. Junior Member
    Interested in Language
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      • Korean
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    • Join Date: Mar 2012
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    #5

    Re: He was the only student to pass the exam....

    I'm sorry. I made a mistake on tense.
    "He was the only student that would be able to pass the exam."
    Anyway thanks for your reply.

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