From the Godfather book:

Maranzano's refusal touched off the great war of 1933 which was to change the whole structure of the underworld in New York City.

What is this grammar construction about? I could guess that it's something close in meaning to Future-in-the-past. But why didn't we use would here instead of was to?

Or that's something completely different?

1 Answer 1


You are on the right track, but this can also be used in the present:

The great war is to change to change the whole structure...

It could be considered as a short form for "is destined to".

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