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I am writing a passage:

Every new instructor would ask about my hobbies. That was to become a pattern for every new instructor I was to have/meet.

For some reason I am feeling a bit uncertain about having two "be to do" phrases in a single clause. Does this sentence sound stilted? What if I were to change it to:

Every new instructor would ask about my hobbies. That was to become a pattern for every new instructor I had/met.

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  • is "to be become" a typo? you don't need the be in there.
    – Mixolydian
    May 10, 2019 at 13:22
  • @Mixolydian Yes! The sentences were extracted and slightly modified from my writing, and unfortunately a typo was introduced in the process. Good catch. Thanks!
    – Eddie Kal
    May 10, 2019 at 13:25

3 Answers 3

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I agree that the second example is better than the first (the first does sound stilted). But I would also argue that the second sentence (in either case) doesn't add any new information - it sounds redundant. I think the first sentence alone expresses the idea that there was a pattern to what instructors asked you about. You might want to say something more like:

Every new instructor would ask about my hobbies. After a while, I noticed a pattern.

Here, the second sentence is about you noticing the repetitive questions. If this is what you want to bring attention to, I think this is a better way to phrase it.

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  • +1 I am not sure about "I noticed a pattern" though. In my understanding that implies the hobby questions were incidental. I actually wanted to say those questions were bound to occur. I just didn't understand that until later.
    – Eddie Kal
    May 10, 2019 at 13:43
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Every new instructor would ask about my hobbies. That was to become a pattern for every new instructor I was to have.

There is nothing ungrammatical about this sentence, but I can understand why you might want to avoid the repetition of the verb form.

While your proposed change is also fine, I can suggest an alternative:

Every new instructor would ask about my hobbies. That was to become a pattern for all of my new instructors.

This replaces every with all (each is another possibility), thereby allowing you to simply remove the verb at the end of the sentence altogether.

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I would rephrase it one of these 2 ways:

Every new instructor would ask about my hobbies. That became a pattern for [every new / each] instructor I met.

Every new instructor would ask about my hobbies. That was to become a pattern for [every new / each] instructor I [was to / would] meet [or "met"].

I'd use the first one if I am talking about a pattern that I noticed at the time when I was meeting other instructors (in the past) that I am writing about.

I'd use the second if I am only noticing the pattern in retrospect, at the time of writing.

Or what about:

Every new instructor asked about my hobbies. It became a pattern [or some more explicit wording like "a standard conversational opening"] with every instructor I was to meet

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