1.Sofia Coppola is only the third woman who is nominated for the best director.

2.Sofia Coppola is only the third woman who was nominated for best director.

3.Sofia Coppola is only the third woman to be nominated for best director.

4.Sofia Coppola is only the third woman to have been nominated for best director.

5.Sofia Coppola was only the third woman to have been nominated for best director.

Could you check what I get from the sentences please?

1.This sentence doesn't much make sense because as if she is always nominated every year for the best director.

2.This sentence sounds good and implies she was already nominated but it is not clear if she won and it seems like the award ceremony finished.

3.This sentence implies her name has not been announced yet.She will be nominated and as if the person who can say this sentence already know that and share this information with somebody else.

4.I think this sentence has the same meaning with sentence 2.

5.I am not sure.there are two intimation.the first one could be she was nominated but because of she is DEAD now the sentence begins with "she was the third woman..." and all things happened in the past. AND the second meaning is that everybody was expected that she was going to be nominated but she was not and all things happened in the past.I am not sure which meaning connotes more.

1 Answer 1


On #1, I'd say you hit the nail on the head. The only other way to take it is that all three are nominated this year, and that her nomination was announced last of the three. But this is farfetched (clearly, nominating a woman for this award is rare—how much more rare would be three at once?!) More likely a reader would think #1 to be a misrendering of one of the other sentences.

On #2 I agree with you. Her nomination was clearly in the past, and one infers that the award was already given as well, and if so, that she probably didn't win it, but you can't be sure of either without further context. One might guess that if she had won, they would have said so; but with only this one sentence out of context, you can't be sure.

In #3 you mistakenly interpreted the infinitive as somehow referring to the future, and deduced that the nomination is not yet known by others. To say simply "she is to be nominated" would imply this, but to say "the third woman to be nominated" implies that she, along with those other two previous woman nominees, is actually known to be nominated. (See discussion at #5 below)

Number 4 is quite similar to #2, but I would say that the "to have been" more strongly conveys the impression that the award has already been given. Still not a certainty, but a bit more likely in #4.

In #5, one might conjecture that she is dead, but I only take the "was" to mean that she was nominated in some prior year (unless the sentence is from an obituary!) There might or might not have been a fourth woman nominated since then. And strictly speaking, if she "was" third, she is and always will be the third, but the use of "was" might only be to confirm that the nomination was in the past, not that she is in the past (dead).

As for your other interpretation of #5, at first I could not see how you came to the conjecture thst she was NOT nominated, when the sentence clearly says that she was. But then I realized that you might have read some conditional (counterfactual) meaning into the apparent construction "was....... to have been nominated". This interpretation is only plausible if the "was" were adjacent to the "to have been nominated". Putting "the third woman" between them makes this reading impossible; "to have been nominated" modifies HER, it does not connect with "was". That is, she was a {woman to have been nominated}, or, more simply, a {woman who was nominated}, that is, a nominated woman.

If she had been expected to be nominated, but was not, one would express it this way:

"HAD SHE BEEN nominated, she WOULD HAVE BEEN only the third woman... [to be nominated]"

  • I think I got what you mean in your last paragraph that why she was definitely nominated.Actually I have another sentence to show what I mean: "He was to have been rewarded for handing in the stolen goods until it was discovered that he was involved with the criminal gang." So I tried to make my original sentence look similar by changing the first verb to be to "was" from "is" .But I think because these two sentences have slightly different structure, they have different meaning.
    – Mrt
    Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 3:32
  • The criminal gang sentence is a good example of counterfactual "was to have been". I don't know which sentence you are referring to after that. If you only change "was" to "is" in #5, you have #4. Try "She was to have been nominated, but then AMPAS ruled that the film had not been released in time to be considered for this year's awards." Commented Jan 28, 2015 at 6:36

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