Consider (Source):

One of the insidious forms of discrimination is that based upon age. We have become aware through education and publicity that bias and discrimination based upon race, color, creed, and sex are not to be accepted

Does "are not to be accepted" mean "won't be accepted"? If so, what makes this structure different from "wont be accepted"? Why the author used that?

  • This pill is to be taken with food. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jul 8 '16 at 10:18
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    BE to be implies obligation rather than prediction: bias and discrimination are not permitted and should not be accepted. But the author is doubtless aware that all too often they are accepted. – StoneyB on hiatus Jul 8 '16 at 10:19
  • @StoneyB with this regard, why the author didn't say should not be accepted? or must not? – Cardinal Jul 9 '16 at 3:14

On the choice of "are not to be" over a modal...

should would have cast it as an exhortation.

must would have cast it as an imperative or rule that we are obliged to follow.

are not to be is very close to must not be but it casts the obligation as an instruction of some kind. We have been instructed (unenlightened souls that we are) not to discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, and creed.

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To answer your question in order of their appearance:

Does "are not to be accepted" mean "won't be accepted"?

In short, the answer is no, they don't mean the same thing. As StoneyB mentions in their comment, the former is a statement that an obligation exists to perform an action, while the latter states a prediction of an action occurring.

What makes "won't be accepted" different?

Essentially, the difference is between obligation (are not to be) and prediction (won't be). To combine them in an understandable sentence, take the following:

Broken or ripped dollar bills are not to be accepted as payment, but that doesn't mean I won't find some in the till at the end of the night.

That sentences states that there is an obligation not to accept ripped dollar bills, but predicts -- in negative language -- that some ripped dollar bills will be accepted in defiance of this obligation.

Why did the author use [are not to be as opposed to won't be]?

Because the author wanted to convey the obligation. As the author states elsewhere, publicity has shown such discrimination does exist and is practiced (so predicting it not to occur would be either wrong or a lie); the author is trying to make the point that it shouldn't happen.

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  • Thanks for the answer, why the author didn't say should not be accepted? or must not? I mean he did not use a modal. – Cardinal Jul 9 '16 at 3:14

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