DNA testing was to be used by police in the search for the missing Dublin schoolboy. His parents have welcomed the news.

Why 'was to be used' is incorrect in this sentence and 'is to be used' is suggested as correct by the 'Advanced Grammar in Use' book?
Which part of this sentence suggests that we have 'The future from now' instead of 'The future seen from the past' scenario?
I thought that 'was to be' is correct as I wasn't sure whether the search took place in the past or will take place in the future.

2 Answers 2


Either one could be correct, given a fitting context.

However, the second sentence, with the verb "have welcomed", sets a time frame extending up to the present. That means only "is to be used", referring to future use of DNA, is correct.

If the sentence used a perspective in the past about future use of DNA, then "was to be used" might fit.


The next sentence - His parents have welcomed the news. - indicates that the announcement about using DNA testing has only recently been made, so the testing is in 'the future from now'.

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