I want to know the role of "be", the sentence structure of these sentences and meaning:

  1. You are to be congratulated
  2. They are to be married in April
  3. The page was not to be found

what are the differences between sentence (2) and "they will marry in April", sentence (3) and "the page not found".

  • "Be" is a verb in a prepositional phrase in the above examples. – Hot Licks Feb 18 '19 at 13:59
  • They express that the actions belong to a schedule or plan. They will marry in April is an isolated event in the future, while They are to be married in April is an element of a plan. Even without adding anything later there is still the expectation that other events that are to be happening before or after will be mentioned. – mama Feb 18 '19 at 14:00
  • @HotLicks Are you sure you are not getting confused with "to"? "To be" is a verb. – Astralbee Feb 19 '19 at 13:41
  • @Astralbee - So you're saying that the proper sentence would be "You to be congratulated"? – Hot Licks Feb 19 '19 at 13:55
  • @HotLicks Not at all. Idiomatically, "you are to be congratulated" means you are due congratulations now, not in the future. It is not the same as saying "You will be congratulated". You said that "be" is a prepositional phrase. It isn't. "To" can be a prepositional phrase when it is a direction or similar, as in "go to the party", but that isn't the case here either. "To be" as a whole is an unconjugated verb. – Astralbee Feb 19 '19 at 14:04

The role of "be" in your examples is as an auxiliary verb. There are no real differences in meaning between sentences written with or without an auxiliary verb but they convey different tenses, moods, or voices.

They will marry in April.

"Will" denotes certainty, and the focus of this sentence seems to be on that certainty, less so on the fact that they are marrying.

They are to be married in April.

Phrasing it this way sounds more like it is their intention or plan to marry in the month of April.

Your other examples:

The page was not found

The page was not to be found

Again, these mean the same (nobody found the page) but it gives a different voice to the statement. The first sounds like the person searching was unable to find the page; whereas the second suggests that the page itself was elusive or difficult to find.

I congratulate you.

You are to be congratulated.

The first two are a statement of congratulation from the speaker, but the third suggests that the speaker feels you may deserve congratulations from a wider audience too.

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