Let's look at the sentences.

These are the things to sell.

These are the things to be sold.

Which one is correct? The first one sounds good. It seems that in the first sentence we are talking about selling not the things. I think the second one is the omitted form of 'These are the things that are to be sold'. We are talking about the things. In that sense the second one should be correct and appropriate. Am I right? Plz make me understand with proper example and explanations. Which one should I use?

  • Yes, you are right that the second sentence is a shortened form of "These are the things [which are] to be sold". It identifies those things, as distinct from ones which are not to be sold. The first sentence is shortened from "These are the things [which you are] to sell". The meaning is the same, but it puts more emphasis on the obligation to sell. May 27, 2020 at 16:50
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    Actually there's no difference in meaning. The second sentence is just the passive version of the first one. May 27, 2020 at 16:50
  • What @user178049 said. And by default the passive form doesn't specify the "agent", so it doesn't actually mean These are the things [which you are] to sell. The intended seller could be anyone. May 27, 2020 at 16:58
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    The only real difference is that the second one is passive. They are both infinitival relative clauses modifying "things".
    – BillJ
    May 27, 2020 at 17:16
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    @FumbleFingersReinstateMonica Yes, that did cross my mind as I was composing my explanation, but I forgot to include it. I meant to say 'which you, or we, are to sell'. May 27, 2020 at 18:57


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