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What is the difference in the meaning between following sentences:

1.If I'm to be a teacher , I will never be absent from school. (I have found in a grammar book that It's called indicative mood)

2.If I become a teacher, I will never be absent from school.

The sentences above are quite similar to me ,I'm a bit familarized with 2nd sentence but I'm confused to guess the meaning of 1st sentence. There is the use of 'am to be ' What kind of sentence structure it is? And how it's different from 2nd sentence? Please explain in details.

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  • The first sentence looks ungrammatical to me. "If I'm to be a teacher" suggests that what follows is a necessary condition for me to become a teacher. "I will..." does not work. Oct 23, 2021 at 15:30

1 Answer 1

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The two sentences are subtly different.

If I'm to be a teacher... is a hypothetical statement about a possibility, intent, or expectation for the future. You could read it as being like "if I am intended to be a teacher..." or "if I am expected to become a teacher..." As such, it's really a statement about the present, because the intention is in the present - note that it's "if I am", not "if I will be"! Therefore, the second part of the sentence, "...I will never be absent from school", doesn't really match, because it's in the future tense. I can think of some cases where the future will would be appropriate, for example

If I am expected to cook dinner tonight, I will need someone else to get the kids from school.

I think this sort of future will is used mainly to express something that makes the hypothetical possible in the future, as in "I will need someone else to get the kids from school (in order to make it possible for me to cook dinner)." But in your sentence, never being absent isn't something that makes being a teacher possible; it doesn't make sense to say "... I will never be absent in order to make it possible for me to be a teacher."

If I become a teacher... is a hypothetical statement about changing into something else in the future, so "will never be" makes more sense here - it's like "If I do X, then I will do Y."


The "am to be" part is an unusual but correct phrasing. The general pattern is "noun BE to verb-phrase". For example, you might say

I am to visit them on Monday

You are to take all the medicine

She is to be sworn in as judge next week

He was to have been crowned king

The phrasing means that there is an expectation or intention of the verb phrase.

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  • Sir, I've found in a grammar book that the first sentence is in indicative found, which you said partly wrong but I think it's not wrong
    – yubraj
    May 21, 2016 at 13:07
  • Please reply me
    – yubraj
    May 21, 2016 at 15:21
  • I've a grammar book. According to the grammar book, 1st sentence is in indicative mood and Express 'supposition' as fact. BUt i'm not understanding what it means, your answer hasn't yet addressed it, so, please edit your answer
    – yubraj
    May 21, 2016 at 15:34
  • Does your grammar book actually say that the 1st sentence is indicative?! Because it looks like the subjunctive, which is used for imaginary things or things that are contrary to fact, and is often used with if. I don't understand the rest of your questions. "which you said partly wrong" - what did I say was wrong? I am talking about matching "I will" with the present tense "I am", not about moods. And what exactly about the first sentence do you not understand?
    – stangdon
    May 22, 2016 at 0:42
  • Looks correct to me (a native speaker). Oct 23, 2021 at 15:32

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