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Though this is not something I come across on a daily basis, whenever I read something poetic, my non-native-speaker-mind cannot handle its meaning to it, can't internalize.

Examples:

  1. My object in coming to Longbourn was to choose such a one, from among Mr Bennet's daughters, for I am to inherit the estate and such an alliance will surely suit everyone.
  2. I am to rejoice in the inferiority of your circumstances?
  3. I warn you, I am not to be trifled with.

These are all from Pride and Prejudice.

What I'm asking for is, actually, want to know all the uses of "am to", "is to", and what do they mean in the context etc. Thank you in advance. Also is it true if I say:

If we are to give some examples of consonance, they would be...

I thought in here it's like if we'll give some examples but in a different way.

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    Not "poetry" but "prose". Pride and Prejudice isn't written in verse.
    – James K
    Apr 1, 2022 at 17:20
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    Pride and Prejudice is, however, written in the English of its day, around 1800, and much of it is in an upper-class and fairly formal tone even for that time. It is not a good guide to current usage. Apr 1, 2022 at 17:23

2 Answers 2

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They are not all the same.

The first one is, in modern parlance, it is expected that I will.

The second is I am supposed to (a rhetorical question expressing surprise and disbelief)

The third is I will not be, or I refuse to be.

So all of them require a modal expression in modern use, but the particular modal will vary. Supposed to is the most general form, but that doesn't really fit all the meanings of the expression.

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  • At one time, UK civil servants could not write letters on their own behalf, but had to phrase them to reflect the convention that they were writing on behalf of, and by the direction of, the relevant minister, secretary of state, etc. They would not start a letter (yes, that long ago) with 'I am writing to tell you...' but rather 'I am to inform you that...' Apr 1, 2022 at 17:52
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This is a standard construction, but in modern English, it is formal and quite rare.

"Be" + infinitive is used to talk about official plans and arrangements.

The Prime Minister is to visit Wales next week.

However, in the English of 1800, the construction was used more often. Nowadays we would say "I'm going to inherit the estate", "I'm going to rejoice in..." etc. (That second example is intended rhetorically, and means "Do you think I am going to rejoice...).

The last example is a little different. It means "I'm not (a person) to be trifled with". The subject of the infinitive phrase has been omitted. To "trifle" with a person means to treat them without respect, so in the active voice without the negation this means "You should treat me with respect".

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