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1 The factories are planned to be removed.

Is this sentence correct in the context of describing future plans?


I have recently read some sentences that use the structure "be planned to". There are some confusing controversial and contradictory questions and answers regarding this structure.

For example, I asked a question about a video here. In that video, which seems to be problematic, the above sentence is suggested for describing future plans regarding destruction of some factories.

In that question someone has commented and said that the above sentence is ungrammatical. They have provided an explanation for it but I couldn't comprehend it. The explanation was: ""Factories are planned to be removed" sounds like the reason they are planned is for them to be removed."

I have found other questions regarding this structure. For example, there are also contradictory answer and comment here. There is another question here that suggests there is nothing wrong with the following sentence:

2 The meeting is planned to be held in the coming days.

I have also searched by ludwig and found many examples of this structure. One of them is:

3 The building is planned to be ready for occupancy in the summer of 2001. (The New York Times)

So why there are suggestions and comments about this structure being ungrammatical?

I am confused and I would appreciate it if you could clear things up.

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  • I don't think you were told that the factories are planned to be removed is ungrammatical (it isn't), just that it's not a very good way of expressing the idea. Much better to say It is planned to remove the factories. Nov 12, 2022 at 11:26
  • @KateBunting look at ell.stackexchange.com/questions/200414/… It has been said: ""a restaurant which is planned to open" is not grammatical. "
    – alireza
    Nov 12, 2022 at 11:29
  • Well, I disagree with the poster who said that - but it would be much better to say in the restaurant which you plan to open, since the person being addressed is the person making the plan. Nov 12, 2022 at 11:39

1 Answer 1

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It's grammatical, it is just poorly phrased. The double passive is clumsy and weak, and there is a potential ambiguity that you have mentioned.

I don't always use the active form of sentences, but in this case:

We plan to remove the factories.

is much better. Even "There are plans to remove the factories." is better. There are hundreds of ways to talk about plans, hopes, intentions, schemes.

The form "is planned to be completed", for example, is common enough. It is not ungrammatical, but I feel it is better to avoid the passive in these contexts.

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  • A question that arose for me is that what is the exact active voice of the sentence #1 in my question? Is it something like: "We (or someone in general) planned the factory to be removed"? I know it can be rewritten in many ways but I seek for the exact one (regardless of who the subject is).
    – alireza
    Nov 13, 2022 at 5:49
  • If this is the active voice, I think the problem that makes sentence #1 poor is the nature of "factory" which is not plannable. But "the meeting is planned to be held tomorrow" I think is probably fine because a meeting is plannable (do you also think that this sentence is fine too?). Again here the active voice is "I (or someone) planned the meeting to be held tomorrow" which sounds fine to me. Do you agree?
    – alireza
    Nov 13, 2022 at 5:50
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    If you make it active, dont change tence. so "The meeting was planned by me" becomes "I planned the meeting". When you have these double passives, the question of what is the active form is ambiguous, since there are two clauses that may need to be restructured. So the active form should be "We plan to remove the factories".
    – James K
    Nov 13, 2022 at 5:56
  • Is the sentence "the meeting is planned to be held tomorrow" poor too like the sentence #1 in my question? It seems very natural to me.
    – alireza
    Nov 13, 2022 at 6:04
  • No, its fine, but I'd still prefer "We plan to hold" or simply "The meeting is planned for tomorrow" (or just "The meeting is tomorrow")
    – James K
    Nov 13, 2022 at 6:20

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