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This question already has an answer here:

It was this very piece that Yo-Yo Ma was to play that evening.

Why the above sentence write "was to play" instead of "played" ?

marked as duplicate by RubioRic, Eddie Kal, Community Oct 15 '18 at 16:57

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Here is the present tense statement of a future commitment:

The trio is to play at the museum's opening.

BE + {marked infinitive} is a way of expressing obligation or commitment.

When you arrive, you are to go immediately to the embassy.

There it can be paraphrased as "you must go".

The trio were to play at the museum's opening but cancelled when two of the musicians got the flu.

The trio had committed to play but got sick.

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The sentence means: “Someone intended for Yo-Yo Ma to play that piece this evening”, Or perhaps, more specifically: “Yo-Yo Ma had intended to play that piece this evening.”

The phrase “was intended” is using the “passive voice”. The subject of the verb (the one who does the verb) is missing.

You cannot tell from the example sentence which of the above choices is the correct meaning. You have to guess from the other sentences (the context).

Passive voice can make sentences hard to understand. Even native speakers of English learn to avoid the passive voice when possible.

  • I don't agree with someone intended for. To me that sounds incorrect and the sentence doesn't show any kind of relationship to someone. To intend means 'to have as a plan or purpose' but there's nothing in the sentence that could point out that 'someone else' to have as plan or purpose for the subject. I see the sentence simply as It was this very piece that Yo-Yo Ma was supposed to play that evening. – Alberto Solano Oct 15 '18 at 12:24
  • I agree that it’s likely that Yo-Yo Ma chose the piece itself, but grammatically that is not required. Compare: “that is the piece I was to practice tonight, before my lesson tomorrow,” said the 10-year-old cello student as her beagle went running away with a shredded sheaf of sheet music in her mouth. – whiskeychief Oct 15 '18 at 20:44
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It was this very piece that Yo-Yo Ma was to play that evening.

Why the above sentence write "was to play" instead of "played" ?

Because the intention of who wrote this was to remark that there was a plan or a committent by Yo-Yo to play that very piece but then (I don't know the context), the plan has been cancelled or Yo-Yo got sick or something else happened.

You can translate the sentence in another way:

It was this very piece that Yo-Yo Ma was supposed to play that evening.

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