I believe that the advantages of buying a property greatly outweigh the short-term savings to be made by renting.

In above sentence what is the role of to be in ("to be made")? Can I write "that are made" instead.

I guess "to be made" is the short for "that are intended to be made" if this is correct is this structure a general structure and can be use in other similar situations?


3 Answers 3


As @P.E.Dant suggests, to be is expressing futurity.

I believe that the advantages of buying a property greatly outweigh the short-term savings to be made by renting.

In this context, to be is used as a modal verb in the first person singular, and is replacing, "that would be", or, "that could be", or "that should be". Note that would, should, and could are also modal verbs.


I believe that the advantages of buying a property greatly outweigh the short-term savings that could be made by renting.

Check out this link for more details & examples.

Lastly, its worth noting that to be is also conveying a degree of uncertainty, or opportunity. Its not necessarily guaranteed that savings will be made, just that they can be made.

  • I think you are misled by the heading at linguapress.com: in expressions like He is to be ... the 'modal' piece is not the infinitival complement to be but the form of BE which acts as the main verb--is in this example. CGEL Ch 3, §2.5.7, p. 113-4 calls this BE a 'quasi-modal': "in spite of its one modal property (and its modal meaning) this be doesn’t in fact qualify grammatically for inclusion in that class." Jul 30, 2017 at 13:10
  • 1
    @StoneyB Heh! Leave it to H&P to state the thing with impenetrable squishiness. To be here acts like a modal on make, conveys futurity and supposition like a modal, but it isn't a modal? Verily, quasi forgiveth a multitude of sins. Jul 30, 2017 at 16:55
  • I read the Linguapress piece early in the game but found, as @StoneyB points out, that this be is a different case. In those examples, some degree of obligation is conveyed, and the modality is in the am, is, and are forms (e.g.: "...savings he is to make") and not in the infinitive. Here, to be is also masquerading as part of a passive infinitive, which adds more confusion. Jul 30, 2017 at 17:09
  • @P.E.Dant H&P follow the 'standard' use of the term modal verb, which is restricted to defective auxiliary verbs which must occupy the front position in verb constructions. It's an unfortunate term--there are lots of things (most of which aren't even verbs or verb constructions) which communicate modality--but H&P are pretty conservative about introducing new terminology. Jul 30, 2017 at 17:10

I think "to be made" is infinitive modifying "savings", which is equal to "that are to be made". Although you could probably use "that are made" instead, the meaning would be slightly changed because infinitive "to be made" implies things would be done in the future. Sometimes, I would consider this kind of "to be" is short for "that is/are to be". like, this is the decision (that is) to be made.

  • What kind of infinitive is "to be made"? How does an infinitive imply things that are done in the future? Jul 30, 2017 at 8:28
  • isn't an infinitive common to express the future? eg. "We want our students to enjoy the course."
    – dan
    Jul 30, 2017 at 8:52
  • @P.E.Dant To- infinitivals may be deployed as adjectivals with future or deontic sense (deonitics are inherently futurive): 1) as a predicative complement with BE: I am to return by Friday ... 2) As a postposed modifier: a plan to be supported. Jul 30, 2017 at 13:25

It's simple.'To be made' means-something that should or needed to be done or made.On the other hand,'that are made' means-Something that's already made.Examples:'To be made'- There are some decisions to be made.So,this sentence means that there are some decision needed or should be made.'That are made'- Dishes 'that are made' by my mom are more delicious than hers.So, here it means that the dishes are already made and you are just commenting on her dishes.

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