Consider this sentence:

There is no one to help.

I think the meaning could be ambiguous. It could mean There is no one to help me. In this case, one is the agent of the verb help. It's an active relationship.

It could also mean I come to help others, but no one needs help, so there is no one for me to help. In this case, one is the object of the verb help. It's a passive relationship.

Am I right?

I am familiar with the passive relationship. For another example, I have homework to do. But I don't know if the active relationship is grammatically correct and common.

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    I have homework to do has only one possible interpretation (...homework to be done). But I have friends to help is ambiguous - it could mean ...friends to help me OR ...friends to be helped. Any potential ambiguity depends on the specific combination of subject and verb. Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 11:29

1 Answer 1


I don't think it has to do with active or passive, but whether the relationship is one-way or both ways.

If you can help friends and friends can help you, then the meaning might not be clear.

But since only you can do homework (homework can't do you), there should not be any ambiguity.

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