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Here are the statements:

She has been asked to resign. I think I will too.

She has been asked to resign. I think I will be too.

Which is right? If they are both correct, could you provide some explanation? Thanks.

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    What's the first example intended to mean? That you'll be asked to resign or that you will resign?
    – KillingTime
    Jan 18, 2023 at 23:14
  • The intended meaning of the first statement is that I will be asked to resign too. Actually, your question helps me see the difference between the two. But, would you help confirm that when we avoid repetitions with modal verbs in passive form, we need to keep both the modal verb and the auxiliary verb (just like how we do with modal verbs in the past)? Thank you.
    – Unique Ever
    Jan 18, 2023 at 23:31
  • Repeating the modal verb makes it clearer what the parellelism is between the two sentences.
    – Barmar
    Jan 18, 2023 at 23:52
  • The first sentence will likely be interpreted to mean that you think you will resign, not that you will be asked to resign.
    – The Photon
    Jan 19, 2023 at 17:29

2 Answers 2

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The article "Focus Structure and Acceptability in Verb Phrase Ellipsis" by Laura Kertz gives a good explanation of this problem.

Verb-phrase ellision occurs when part of a verb phrase is omitted (in this case part of "will be asked to resign") because it is evident from the surrounding context.

So the question is: when you elide part of the verb phrase, do you need to preserve the passive voice marker "be"? That is the difference between the two examples you give.

The rule for when this can or cannot occur is a matter of genuine dispute, as Kertz explains. She argues (basically) that this is a matter of semantics, not syntax, and that the passive voice cannot be omitted when it appears that the "source" where the VP originates and the "target" where the VP is omitted might be seen as contrasting with each other.

So (to use her example) this is valid:

A lot of this material can be skipped, and often I do.

But this is not:

The material was skipped by the instructors and the TA’s did too.

This discrepancy is because the latter sentence appears to be setting up a contrast (between the professors and the TA's).

In your case, I think it is possible that you would be contrasting "she" and "I." So I would go with option (2) and say "I will be too," not "I will too."

That said, this case is genuinely confusing, since it isn't immediately obvious whether a contrast is likely.

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  • Thank you so much for your input. I have checked the file you have attached and found that the given examples are constructed with a passive first clause and an active second clause, which is not really my case, honestly. Anyways, I do agree with you that "I will be too" is clearer compared to the other one, but I want to know if it is okay to keep only the modal verb when we use ellipses with passive one. There is a rule for past modal verb that we need to keep the modal verb and have, but I could find a rule for passive modal verb. If you have any sources on that, please let me know. Thanks. Jan 19, 2023 at 12:19
  • If you read the paper, it is actually about cases where both clauses are logically passive, but where the passive voice marker is omitted in the second clause, making it look active. It is in fact about the exact situation you are describing, though the terminology it uses may make it sound otherwise.
    – alphabet
    Jan 19, 2023 at 13:23
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The problem is choice of tense.

A passive sentence followed by an active sentence causes confusion if trying to convey agreement in action. Which action will writer also do; the asking or the resigning? I suggest rewriting the second sentence using the third conditional.

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