I am desperately trying to understand this concept.

Lets use this sentence:

The world is due ‘a major cyber attack causing widespread harm’ before 2025, say experts”.

Dictionaries do not mention usage of due without a preposition in this meaning. When talking about expectations, Oxford mentiones "due for" or "due to do sth".

In the entry "Owed", it does mention "due something" with a note [not before noun]. And the example says "I'm still due 15 days' leave."

I cannot find more about the usage "to be due sth" in terms of to expect something. Could you help me understand which dictionary (Oxfortd online e.g.) is that and how that applies? THanks

1 Answer 1


According to this Wiktionary page,

A small number of English adjectives take noun phrase complements. CGEL lists only four: due, like, unlike, and worth. Underweight and probably overweight are also in this class. There may be others.

So, "a major cyber attack.." is a complement that the adjective due takes in your sentence.

The meaning, again according to Wiktionary's entry on due, is "owed or owing". Wiktionary provides the following example:

He is due [four weeks of back pay]. (a noun phrase complement in square brackets)

The note "not before a noun" means that due in this sense cannot be used as an attributive adjective, but only as a predicative or postpositive adjective. An attributive adjective is used like this:

The threat of cyber attack should be given due attention. (the adjective due stands before a noun, and this noun is attention)

In your example sentence, due is used predicatively. It would be hard to use it attributively in this sense anyway, since we need to attach the complement to it somehow:

The experts say that our world is a due [a major cyber attack causing widespread harm before 2025] world.

(I used due before the noun world, that is, attributively, and inserted the complement between the adjective and the noun. The result looks outlandish).

  • Thanks, that helps a lot. But why does the dictionary mentiones "not before noun"?
    – SillkySand
    Jan 15, 2015 at 10:02
  • @SillkySand - I've expanded my answer. Jan 15, 2015 at 10:10
  • "not before noun"? How about "due date"? :p
    – Avigrail
    Jan 15, 2015 at 10:12
  • @bobbee - I wrote in this sense. An adjective can have numerous senses. Due can be used both predicatively or attributively. In "due date", the adjective is used attributively, and its meaning differs a bit from the predicative use in "Bobbee is due a good foray into Wikipedia" (0: Jan 15, 2015 at 10:16
  • Just joking my friend :^)
    – Avigrail
    Jan 15, 2015 at 10:21

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