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What does "She is to arrive soon" mean?

Does "She is to arrive soon" mean "She is with me at my house now. But, she will arrive at your house soon" ? Or, does "She is to arrive soon" mean "She is not with me at my house now. But, she will arrive at my house soon" ?

(Source: https://m.blog.naver.com/PostView.naver?isHttpsRedirect=true&blogId=dmm_korea&logNo=221447485839 )

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    Not enough context to know the place at which she will arrive.
    – Lambie
    Feb 5 at 16:55
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    It means, "She is going to arrive soon". It doesn't say anything about where she is or where she's arriving
    – gotube
    Feb 6 at 8:18
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    Note that to my British-English ears, this construct is quite old-fashioned. In my head, it's said in a posh voice, like you might hear in a period drama. Feb 7 at 10:52

7 Answers 7

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This sentence does not say or imply anything about where I am or where I will be. It only says that she is due to arrive at her destination soon.

The sentence is unusual in most contexts. It would be more common to say "She is due to arrive soon", or "she is supposed to arrive soon".

If I say that somebody has arrived I do not always mean they have reached the place where I (the speaker) am. If somebody is flying to Paris they may ring me from Paris to tell me they have arrived.

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  • If so, "She is" + "to arrive at my house soon"(=> She is to arrive at my house soon) mean "She is her home and she will arrive at my house soon" ?
    – user175012
    Feb 5 at 8:06
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    It doesn't say anything about where she is either, but arrive usually implies that the subject is already on their way to their destination. If she was at her home, the speaker would say "She will come to my house soon". Feb 5 at 8:59
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    More generally, it should be understood that the future in English is not a single, unified tense, but a family of loosely-related constructions. The most common way of constructing the future is with the modal verb will, but the "is to" + verb construction also denotes the future, and is not meaningfully different aside from being slightly more formal (as compared to using will).
    – Kevin
    Feb 5 at 22:41
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    @Kevin: will expresses a certainty that is not implied by is to. See legendmixer's answer, where he uses shoul;d (which expresses an expectation, but no certainty).
    – MSalters
    Feb 7 at 11:07
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    @MSalters: I disagree that this construction is precise enough to express that level of nuance. It's just a different way of writing the future. It is used in too many different ways to draw a will/should distinction.
    – Kevin
    Feb 7 at 15:41
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'She is to arrive soon.' does not indicate whether she is with me.

at as in arrive at is normally used to refer to a place or an answer. Using personal pronouns you or me would not be appropriate. You could instead say

She is to arrive at your place/ location soon.

She is to arrive here soon.

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It means the same as:

"She should arrive soon"

but it's a more formal way of saying it.

For example, if I was a businessman I could say:

"my client is to arrive soon",

OR

"my client should arrive soon",

and they both mean the same thing.

It doesn't necessarily need to be about people either, so if I just ordered something online I could say:

'my amazon package is to arrive soon'

However, it usually means that the subject is already on their way to arrive at the destination, so out of the examples you posted, it is most like:

"She is not with me at my house now. But, she will arrive at my house soon"

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This construct is used with verbs other than `to arrive' also. High probability or an expectation, an obligation even, of the said thing to happen is implied. Compare with

  • "You are to do your homework tonight." (You'd better!)
  • "I am to graduate next Spring." (If things go according to the plan, I will graduate next Spring. Actually the implication is that a few mishaps along the way should not stop me from graduating as scheduled.)

I agree with Peter in that I think it sounds a bit more formal than other equivalent ways of conveying the same message. Not being a native speaker I don't trust myself here 100%.

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    As a different kind of non-native speaker, I also pick up the same connotations. I'd add that sentences like these depend a lot on context for their meaning. For example, "I am to graduate next spring" could also continue "...if I want to keep my fellowship", which then means that graduating next spring is very important, but is not necessarily likely. Feb 6 at 18:27
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    I think it might be a bit more formal because it's old. On Google Books, I found a lot of this in historical legal documents: e.g. "If anyone accuses a bishop's servant or a king's, he is to clear himself by the hand of the reeve: the reeve is either to clear him or deliver him to be flogged" on p.398 here has three examples in a row! Feb 6 at 18:32
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It means:

She is supposed to arrive soon. [due to a plan or obligation]
OR
She will arrive soon. [as inferred from something else]

Examples:

I am waiting here because she is to arrive soon. [planned]
Please be patient. She is to arrive soon. [planned]
She is to arrive by today otherwise we shall cancel the agreement. [obligated]
She is to arrive soon, since her plane has landed. [inferred]

It seems to me as a native speaker that "is to arrive soon" cannot really be used as an obligation, because "soon" is too vague, and something firmer must be used, like "by today" as above.

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It means 'it can't turn out any different than her arriving soon'.
If you add the word 'bound' in - "she is bound to arrive soon"- it should become clearer. This construct is considered correct without the extra word 'bound'.

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There could be a few 'implied' words, and without context it's hard to say which is intended - she is due to arrive soon, she is expected to arrive soon, she is obliged to arrive soon and so on.

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