It got me thinking how English speakers realize and distinguish the meaning of this strange verb in such sentences like the one mentioned below.
He produced a hand-written list of nine poor families, he was supposed to help.
I know all the various and possible meanings of 'be supposed to' as explained in reference thesauruses and dictionaries. But I think amongst all of them, these two meanings are both applicable and understood from the sentence once you read or hear it.
- To be expected to
- To be meant to / to be aimed to / to be intended to
About the first one imagine a rich, Generous and merciful guy who usually and repeatedly helps others who need and those poor families expect him to come by and help them.
About the second one imagine a guy who had planned to help the poor families for the first time only because of some religious occasion or personal reasons.
So how do i know which one is meant?