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The sentence I am stuck with:

The specimen to be tested is injected into an environmental chamber through which a constant flow of air passes.

I paraphrase it in my mind:

The specimen which will be tested is injected into an environmental chamber through which a constant flow of air passes.

After reducing the sentence I paraphrased:

The specimen tested is injected into an environmental chamber through which a constant flow of air passes.

To me, to be is redundant in The specimen to be tested is...

If the sentence is correct, what is my mistake?

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The "passive infinitive" (such as to be tested) usually has an implication of intention, especially when it follows a form of to be.

So The specimen is to be tested. means more than The specimen is tested: it means that there is an intention of testing it.

The same is true in a relative clause:

The specimen which is to be tested means something different from the specimen which is tested.

and in a reduced relative clause:

The specimen to be tested is different from The specimen tested.

In fact, in this last case, there is even more difference, because the verb omitted in the Whiz-deletion could be is or was. In the absence of any overriding context, the specimen tested will be interpreted as the specimen which was tested.

So the specimen to be tested means "the specimen which somebody intends/intended to test", while the specimen tested usually means "the specimen which was/has been tested".

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  • "..., the specimen tested will be interpreted as the specimen which was tested." Can we? Souldn't we say "the specimen having been tested" to emphasize that it tested before? Sep 24 '19 at 8:53
  • While you could in principle use having been tested in that way, I don't think anybody would, because tested already means "which was tested". So if you wrote "the specimen having been tested" I would probably not recognise it as a noun phrase with reduced relative clause (like "the specimen tested") but would parse it as an absolute clause, like "the show having finished, we left the theatre".
    – Colin Fine
    Sep 24 '19 at 9:05
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I personally feel that "The specimen which will be tested is injected into an environmental chamber through which a constant flow of air passes." is not suitable in this context, because you are talking about an action that is presently taking place.

As for the other two, I am unsure of what the context is for which you need this, so I will explain both. If you are writing up a scientific experiment method, let's say, it would be better to use "The specimen to be tested is injected into an environmental chamber through which a constant flow of air passes." For "The specimen tested is injected into an environmental chamber through which a constant flow of air passes", you can use this in the same situation, however it also makes it sound a little like the action took place in the past, or that someone is commentating on the action.

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