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What is the difference between “I have a lot of work to do” and “I have a lot of work to be done”?

Does sentence one mean that “I” do the work?

Does sentence two mean that “someone else” does the work?

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Nearly. Sentence 2 is actually non-specific about who's going to do the work, rather than saying someone else will be doing it. –  Rupe Jun 12 at 11:10
    
See also English Language Learners –  Kris Jun 12 at 12:37
    
The first is ambiguous. It is immediately (wrongly?) interpreted as "I have work that I have to do." The second is unambiguous only in that it leaves nothing for imagination -- it is clear in not mentioning the actor, could be anyone. –  Kris Jun 12 at 12:39

1 Answer 1

The difference is that the first sentence clearly states that the speaker has a lot of work which they specifically must do, while the second sentence is not really valid English as it mistakenly conjugates the doing in the passive voice, as if it applies to the work rather than to the agent (I, in this example).

By de-emphasising 'the work', this should be made more clear.

I have (a lot of work) to do

From this we should see that

I have (a lot of work) to be done

makes far less semantic sense, and could possibly imply that there is a lot of work which needs to be done on me, which is highly unlikely to be the intended usage, unless it were to be uttered during a conversation about impending plastic surgery.

There is a lot of work to be done would be far more common usage, and makes it equally ambiguous about who is expected to do the work.

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