I know someone may think this question maybe funny,but I'm not a native English speaker.But I'm willing to learn. I saw this on the bus :

"Those in wheelchairs are to ring the bell."

Sounds weird. I'd like to know how to make it right. Does it mean that the bell is for the particular use of disabled people?

  • It does sound a bit unusual. – snailplane Oct 7 '14 at 22:12

The instruction as written is clear. "Are to" = must. So you could replace "are to" with "must". Those in wheelchairs must ring the bell. But I would leave it as is.


As a native English speaker, I don't find this sentence weird, and as far as I can tell, it's completely correct.

It is a slightly less common use of the verb "are." As Tim Romano noted, the phrase "are to" can be replaced with "must" to make the sentence simpler to understand for non-native speakers, although "must" connotes a greater sense of urgency. "Should" would also be a valid replacement:

Those in wheelchairs should ring the bell.

Here's some other, similar examples:

Passengers with children are to board the plane first.

Anyone without valid identification is to (singular form) enter the second line and wait to be served.

As for your other question:

Does it mean that the bell is for the particular use of disabled people?

The sentence didn't specify that the bell is only for the use of the disabled people, just that people in wheelchairs should ring the bell.

  • Thank you for your answer.It's very helpful.In addition,I would like to ask if I want to specify that this bell is for those in wheelchairs,how should I express in words? – 蘇彥瑜 Oct 8 '14 at 7:15
  • "This bell is to be rung only by those in wheelchairs." is a pretty typical example, using the "<be verb> to" phrase we've been using in the past few sentences. – Crazy Eyes Oct 8 '14 at 15:16

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