We are to get a 10 per cent wage rise in June.

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Bob8964

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

The following sentence is from my book:

We are to get a 10 per cent wage rise in June.

It says in the book that "be + infinitive", are to, is used to talk about a planned event here. But, I feel that will be getting or are getting would be more proper for this kind of sentences. Could you please give me some advice on the reason of using "be+infinitive" ?
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    "We are to" means that something should happen: it has been promised or you have been told that will happen, but it doesn't assure us that it will happen. Will be getting or are getting imply certainty about the future.

    I might write the sentence in question if I were doubtful for some reason that it would happen, or leave open the possibility that it might not.

    We are to get a 10 per cent wage rise in June. We will have to look at our June paychecks to make sure that we actually receive it.

    Added: Cross-posted with Rover_KE
     

    dreamlike

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I once heard that there are different degrees of likelihood to using "be + infinitive" or "be + gerund", the numbers were something on the order of:

    We are to get a 10% wage rise in June - 90% certainty
    We are getting a 10% wage rise in June - 100% certainty

    I suppose I can dismiss it as an utter nonsense?
     
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    Bob8964

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I still feel a bit confused about the meaning of "are to". I wonder if I can say it is used to say what is generally believed will happen and if I can rewrite the original sentence as:

    We are supposed to(=should, ought to)get a 10 per cent wage rise in June.

    Please kindly give me some comments on it.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    For me, "are to" is a pretty definite statement and I would not see it as being any less certain than "are going to" - so I disagree with Cagey on this one. I may have been influenced by working for many years in an environment where saying or writing "you are to" made the following instruction an order.
     

    Bob8964

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    But I still feel that "are to" is used to indicate probability here. Some words, such as, supposed, believed, and said, have been elided, i.e. "are to" can be read as "be supposed/believed/said to". I hope somebody can give me a more detailed analysis.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    If I mean "we are supposed to get a pay rise" I would not dream of eliding the "supposed". As I wrote previously, to me "we are to ..." is a definite statement of fact. I cannot accept that anybody would use "are to" in the way that you suggest.
     

    Bob8964

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Now, let me list the two sentences:

    1. We are to get a 10 per cent wage rise in June.

    2. We are going to get a 10 per cent wage rise in June.

    I want to know whether there are any differences between them.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    From my perspective

    We are to - somebody has decided that this is what will happen (the employer has agreed this with the trade union)
    We are going to - a simple statement of the future.

    In the case of the pay rise, there is no practical difference in the meaning since a pay rise depends on a decision by somebody else.

    We are to go to the seaside - somebody or something requires that we must go to the seaside.
    We are going to the seaside - it just means that we are going to the seaside - maybe because we must, maybe because we want to - I can't tell from the sentence.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Perhaps it's a difference in varieties of English but I think of "are to" as "someone has decided (and I may or may not believe that it will happen)", where "are going to" means "I believe we will definitely get it".

    The fact that "We were to receive a pay raise/rise last October" means "and we didn't" lends some credibility to this interpretation.

    In other words, I agree with Cagey. "We are to get a 10% pay raise" and "We will get a 10% pay raise" are two different levels of certainty.

    I agree with Andygc's comments about the seaside trip. :)

    A few examples of sentences that, to me, imply that there is uncertainty about the expectation:

    "The forecast says we are to get some relief this week."

    "There is a rumor that we are to be paid soon, anyway before we go South. Rumor is such a liar we don't know what to believe."

    "We are to be paid for two months to-morrow, the Col says."
     
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    Bob8964

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thanks a lot, Andy and James!

    Please check if my new translation is acceptable:

    According to the agreement, it is expected/supposed that we will get 10 per cent wage rise.
     

    Bob8964

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I'm not sure how it works in the target language, but perhaps:

    According to the agreement, we can expect a 10 per cent pay rise in June.

    Thanks! Please advise if I can use should(means obligation) to translate it as:

    According to the agreement, we should be given a 10 per cent raise.
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    "Should be given" has a different meaning, to my ear. It sounds like the person distrusts the people who owe him the raise. "Should be getting" would be better, I think, but that may just be personal opinion. To me, "should be getting" communicates the expectation but no guarantee without sounding accusatory.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I would like to know James's opinion. To me, these mean close to the same thing. I might be more likely to say the first if I were talking about what I expected to happen in the future.
    According to the agreement, we should be getting a 10 per cent raise.

    I might use this one if I were explaining the specific terms of the agreement, such as how much the raise would be.
    According to the agreement, we should get a 10 per cent raise.

    However, I am not certain. The difference between them is not very great in my view. I would like to know what someone else thinks of this.
     
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    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I would like to know James's opinion. To me, these mean close to the same thing. I might be more likely to say the first if I were talking about what I expected to happen in the future.
    According to the agreement, we should be getting a 10 per cent raise.

    I might use this one if I were explaining the specific terms of the agreement, such as how much the raise would be.
    According to the agreement, we should get a 10 per cent raise.

    However, I am not certain. The difference between them is not very great in my view. I would like to know what someone else thinks of this.
    I agree with Cagey.
     
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