I'm not sure why 'be to infinitive' is used and what is the meaing of "was to become" in the following example.. Is it used to talk about a future event?
If so, is it possible to change 'was to become' to 'would become'?
If it isn't impossible, what is the difference them?
"was to become" is used to especially imply the boy's destiny, isn't it?
<There was born in Scotland a poor little boy who was to become one of the world's great men.>
I just know that 'to infinitive' is used to talk about formal, official arrangements, formal instructions and to give orders and future events.
Is it right? Do I understand properly?
Thanks in advance.
Hey Svartnik, that's not up to your usual standard!!
'was' is a linking verb, (to become one of the world's great men) an adjectival phrase describing who. As far as I know there is no phrasal verb 'be to'. Nor such a 'modal idiom', whatever that may be.
Replace 'was' with 'would become' if you like, another linking verb.
He was one of the world's great men.
He became one of the world's great men.
He would become one of the world's great men.
He was to become one of the world's great men.
linking verb vs auxiliary verb
Would you perhaps like to think about that and reconsider?? Maybe draw a diagram of the sentence??
Hey Svartnik, don't be so self-derprecating!
Engee, it does not say anywhere in your OED that 'was to become' is a verb form. They are good at English in Oxford! Consider the following which may help you grasp the concept:
something = (to do the dishes) It is a noun phrase
Something as object:
They want (something).
Something as subject:
(Something) was considerate.
'was become' is very antiquated and would be considered wrong nowadays. Robert Oppenheimer, after watching the explosion of the first atomic bomb at Alamogordo quoted a line from the Bhagavad Gita,
" I am become Death, the shatterer of worlds" But this is a translation from the Sanskrit and over 4000 years old.
Time for a beer, but I'll leave you with this, please take a look and see if you can tell me what is what, ie, subject verb object or any other bits you'd care to name.
To know me is to love me.