We use 'be+ to- infinitive' when discussing formal or official arrangements or to give formal instructions or orders.It is also used frequently in newspapers, radio and television reports to refer to future events. It expresses near certainty that what is forecast will happen. Ex- A man is to appear in court later this morning charged with the murder of the footballer, Darren Gough.

I found this explanation in BBC Learning English.

I have a doubt that infinitive verbs have any hidden future sense. Like the event of infinitive verb will happen after the main verb or linking verb. Ex- I am to go. The event of 'to go' will happen in future.

And, even in the case of 'Infinitives of Purpose' it holds the same future sense.

Ex- He is going there to meet his friends. The event of 'to meet' has not happen yet it would start after reaching there which is also the purpose of his going.

I searched the meaning of 'to be' in a dictionary (Cambridge Dictionary) and in one of its many meanings it gives the idea of something will happen in future.

Ex- We are to(=we are going to) visit Australia in the Spring. ( I haven't done any changes in the example it is written as it was there)

And, in Mediam Webster the definition of 'to be' is 'that is to be: Future). Ex- A bride-to-be

So, my question is do all simple Infinitives have any future sense hidden in them?

  • 1
    Do you have a question you would like answered?
    – gotube
    Commented May 23, 2021 at 5:26
  • 1
    In your example, the quasi-modal verb "be" involves a present schedule to denote a future situation.
    – BillJ
    Commented May 23, 2021 at 6:25
  • @gotube Yes, sorry for not highlighting the point which I wanted to ask. But now I have added it in my question.
    – RADS
    Commented May 23, 2021 at 15:48
  • @BillJ I have added few more things in the question to clear it more. Can u please address it again
    – RADS
    Commented May 24, 2021 at 2:27

2 Answers 2


It's very common for "to" + <base form> to have a future meaning, but not always:

She's pretending to be happy.

In that sentence, the pretending and being happy are happening at the same time, so there's no future meaning.

The title of this question and the BBC quote, however, are about <be> + "to" + <base form> in particular. This structure always has a future meaning.


We use present simple to talk about the future when we're talking about timetables and programmes.

Ex. I have to go. My train leaves at 11.30

Ex. What time does the film start tonight?

Observe that we're using present simple structure to talk about future, but it just apply to timetables and programmes. However, there are other proper forms to talk about future, for example

Present continous (I'm doing something= I've already decided and arranged to do it) Present continous (I'm going to do something= I've already decided and intend to do it, may be it is not arranged) Future tense (I'll do something= I've decided and announce it.)

I hope my comment help you.

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