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    • Join Date: Jun 2009
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    #1

    to be- modal

    first i want to thank you for this site
    i feel i am smarter already after checking things around here
    someone wrote here that "to be" can't be modal
    can you explain the type of "be" in this sentence, please:

    They are to arrive at 9 p.m.

    thank you very much in advance

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    #2

    Re: to be- modal

    It would seem that the sentence meaning here is modal. But the modal force is contributed by the construction (be + infinitive), not by the verb alone. In fact if I had to attribute it to one element of the construction, it would be the infinitive.

    (By the way I am not saying that the verb "to be" can or can't be modal - that is another question.)
    Last edited by orangutan; 30-Jun-2009 at 09:59.

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    #3

    Re: to be- modal

    Quote Originally Posted by mariananeagu View Post
    first i want to thank you for this site
    i feel i am smarter already after checking things around here
    someone wrote here that "to be" can't be modal
    can you explain the type of "be" in this sentence, please:

    They are to arrive at 9 p.m.

    thank you very much in advance

    The verb 'be' here is functioning as an AUXILIARY, since it is directly followed by another verb form (here, an infinitive).

    It is, however, excluded from the subclass of MODAL auxiliaries, since one defining feature of these is their invariability as to person in the present tense (e.g. I can, he can, not *he cans).


    • Join Date: Jun 2009
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    #4

    Thumbs up Re: to be- modal

    Quote Originally Posted by orangutan View Post
    It would seem that the sentence meaning here is modal. But the modal force is contributed by the construction (be + infinitive), not by the verb alone. In fact if I had to attribute it to one element of the construction, it would be the infinitive.

    (By the way I am not saying that the verb "to be" can or can't be modal - that is another question.)
    Forgive me, maybe i misunderstood it, i will check again.
    So in this case it can be a modal substitute right?
    I was a little confused about this. It was written in our teacher's notes and sometimes we have to accept things we don't agree because we can't express it with arguements.
    Thank you so much again

    Ein guter tag

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    #5

    Re: to be- modal

    You might, I suppose, term it 'modal substitute' on a semantic basis (it means something like 'should...'), but in strictly structural terms 'be' remains a non-modal auxiliary.

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