was to do something


"Mr Jones was to speak at the meeting."

I came upon the sentence above while stuying "be to-infinitive". In most cases, I don't have problem understanding how it is used in sentences. However, that one is a bit confusing. The explanation says "the meeting was arranged and he did it". (But to me, without the preceding context, it sounds like "he was going to speak" at first glance.) Anyway if that's the case why can't we just say "he spoke at the meeting?"
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    It means "People expected Mr Jones to speak at the meeting." We don't know whether Mr Jones spoke or not, but his speech was planned at one time in the past. He was supposed to speak.


    Senior Member
    USA English
    1. Your sentence means "Mr. Jones was scheduled to speak at the meeting, which is not all all the same as saying he actually spoke. The explanation is wrong and you are correct in questioning it. :thumbsup:

    I suspect this is another case of bad information from a non-native source.

    <moderator note: please report a problem rather than responding off-topic.>
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