Future obligation


When we write about future obligations, we can use a formal pattern composed of two elements
the verb to be in the present tense conjugated to match the subject + the infinitive of the main verb

To travel, as a future obligation
Affirmative Negative Interrogative Negative Interrogative
I am to travel. I am not to travel. Am I to travel? Am I not to travel?
You are to travel. You are not to travel. Are you to travel? Aren't you to travel?
He is to travel. He is not to travel. Is he to travel? Isn't he to travel?
It is to travel. It is not to travel. Is it to travel? Isn't it to travel?
We are to travel. We are not to travel. Are we to travel? Aren't we to travel?
They are to travel. They are not to travel. Are they to travel? Aren't they to travel?


In written English, we can use this pattern to refer to an obligation or requirement that we do something at a time later than now. It is similar in meaning to must, but there is a suggestion that something has been arranged or organised for us. It is not normally used in spoken English.

  • You are to leave this room at once, and you are to travel by train to London.
  • In London you are to pick up your ticket from Mr Smith, and you are to fly to your destination alone.
  • When you arrive, you are to meet our agent, Mr X, who will give you further information.
  • You are to destroy this message now.