7

I'm only posting this because I was just about to hit "submit" for my answer to 'is to be endorsed' vs. 'has to be endorsed' when the question was closed, and I'm not convinced it will ever be re-opened. This is my attempt to rephrase the question, but it's so radically changed I wouldn't edit the original question.


Believed and endorsed are a bit awkward here, so let's consider these closely-related contexts...

A: John thinks aliens are already living among us. But John has been under the care of mental health professionals for most of his adult life, so I doubt whether his opinion...
A1: ...is to be trusted.
A2: ...has to be trusted.

B: John says we must identify and kill the aliens who are living among us. But John has been under the care of mental health professionals for most of his adult life, so I doubt whether his instruction...
B1: ...is to be followed.
B2: ...has to be followed.

Is there any rule about whether to use is or has in the above, and is it the same for both contexts?

3

In the first case, A1 is idiomatically the most likely form. A2 is grammatical, but wouldn't be common.
In the second case, B1 is extremely unlikely, if not actually incorrect. B2 is the normal phrasing.

In both cases, a third option should be is perfectly valid. The reason has works better in B than A is because the second context explicitly concerns obligation (has would be pronounced hass, as per this ELU question).

In short, I think is would be the normal choice when we're talking about something that's very much an optional reaction (that we may or may not be having right now). Using has places more emphasis on whether or not we will accept a future obligation.

1
  • 2
    Nice post. +1. I understood everything except the part future obligation. What does it mean here?
    – Mistu4u
    Oct 2 '13 at 4:53

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