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According to my understanding

  1. He was to come at 8 pm.
    (Means He was supposed to come at 8 pm)

  2. He had to come at 8 pm.
    (Means He was obligated to come at 8 pm)

And also

  1. How she would feel if her mother was to be made to stand and wait
    (Means her mother was asked to stand and wait by someone)

  2. How she would feel if her mother had to be made to stand and wait
    (Means her mother had to stand and wait till a chair was free)

Correct me if I am wrong.

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There were many errors of spelling and formatting which I have corrected. Your question has a better chance of getting a useful answer if you are careful about such things, because answerers are more likely to respond to questions they can understand. –  StoneyB Jun 15 at 16:03
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2 Answers 2

The first set is correct. Your second set isn't quite correct.

Let's simplify first.

Her mother was to stand and wait.
Her mother had to stand and wait.
Her mother was made to stand and wait.

The first means that her mother was expected to stand and wait, or that it was intended that her mother stand and wait. The second means that she was obligated to stand and wait. The third means that someone or something forced her to stand and wait; "was required to stand and wait" is synonymous. Note that this one is passive voice.

Now.

Her mother was to be made to stand and wait.
Her mother had to be made to stand and wait.

The first means that there was some sort of intention (a plan, for example) that someone was going to require her mother to stand and wait. The second means that someone was obliged to require her mother to stand and wait. These are also passive voice.

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The sentences in your first pair of examples are grammatical, and they have the meanings you suggest in parentheses.

But there are many problems with your second pair. First, it is not at all clear what exactly you are asking; I am going to make some assumptions, and if I am wrong you may correct me, either in comments or by editing your question.

  • I assume that you intend these to be questions, not free relative clauses.
  • I assume that your parenthetical expressions explain the ‘base situation’ embedded in the questions, not the meaning of the questions.
  • I assume that the task before us is to construct parallel questions reflecting the BE to VERB / HAVE to VERB contrast in your first pair.

Let's do this step by step. (I’m going to rewrite your mother as she to make this easier to read.)

First, your basic question structure with interrogative words like Why, Who, When, How works ‘backward’ from the expected answer in three steps, like this

 She would feel [like this] ... replace the constituent in question with the interrogative word
 ↓
a. She would feel [← how?] ... move the interrogative word to the head of the clause
 ↓
b. [How] she ↔ would feel? ... invert (flip-flop) the subject and the tensed auxiliary verb
 ↓
c. How would she feel?

Your basic question structure, then, is this:

How would she feel if X? ... and we can now dismiss the front and concentrate on the back: X.

You have two values for X:

She is to stand and wait. ≈ She is supposed/asked to stand and wait
She has to stand and wait. ≈ She is obligated/required to stand and wait

—but there’s a problem: your original sentences have made to in them, and there’s really no room for that here. To make somebody do something isn’t exactly the same thing as to ask them to do it or to obligate them to do it; but it’s so close that we introduce MAKE to into these sentences only to achieve much narrower meanings:

She is to be made to do it means “[Some authority] intends to compel her do it”.
She has to be made to do it means either “She won’t do it unless somebody compels her do it” or “[Some authority] must compel her to do it”.

The second problem arises when we start massaging your X sentences to make them fit the conditional (if...then) construction. In this case you have would in your consequence clause (then clause, apodosis), a past form which in this case requires a corresponding past form in the condition clause (if clause, protasis). Let’s look at the has to X first, because that’s unproblematic:

... if she hadPAST to stand and wait.

But with is to X new problems begin to arise. In the first place, the past form would in the consequence clause may have either of two different meanings. It may represent a simple past form corresponding to ‘will’ in an ordinary present-tense sentence. In this case we use the ordinary past form when we ‘backshift’ is to:

How would she feel if she was to stand and wait?

However, this is a very unlikely understanding of How would ... if? The would here is almost certainly used to express an imaginary present or generic situation. And when that is the case, the BE form required in the condition clause is not was but were—what traditional grammar calls the ‘subjunctive past’:

How would she feel if she were to stand and wait?

But there’s another problem with that—it doesn’t mean what you intend it to mean. If X were to VERB is a fixed idiom meaning ‘if it happened that X VERB’—(or, as appropriate, VERbs or VERBed). The sense of futurity or expectation or supposition which present-tense or simple-past-tense BE to expresses disappears in the ‘past subjunctive’.

So you have to find another way of expressing that sense—another word or phrase. It might be BE asked or BE supposed, as in your paraphrases, or BE expected or BE required or even HAVE to. You select whichever best fits the nuance you are trying to express, and cast that in the ‘past subjunctive’.

How would she feel if she were expected to stand and wait?


This is not necessarily the case in informal discourse: colloquial English accepts was in this context. But in this context, was is understood in exactly the same way as the formally correct were, so the problem I describe in the next paragraph cannot be evaded.

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