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Is there something unusual about the phrase: 'He is to blame'? It seems to be a shorter form of the passive 'He is to be blamed'. Does this make it some kind of adjective with a to-infinitive form? Are there any other phrases that follow this pattern?

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"He's been accused of being to blame, and if he is to save face, he must..." –  Dan Bron Aug 5 at 18:36
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@DanBron I don't think "he is to save face" exhibits the same thing. In "he is to blame", "he" is actually the object of the blame, that's not the case with face-saving. The same goes for your "remain" and "serve" cases. –  Rupe Aug 5 at 18:40
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You do get a similar thing in things like "The water is to drink (not to wash with)" which you could look at as passive like the OP says ("the water is to be drunk"), or as a shortened form of "the water is (for people) to drink". –  Rupe Aug 5 at 18:44
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It's a relative infinitive, and they're always strange and idiomatic. –  John Lawler Aug 5 at 19:38
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A similar expression immediately springing to mind is "to die for." –  emodendroket Aug 5 at 20:10

1 Answer 1

"To Blame" is an idiomatic expression.

to blame

  1. Deserving censure; at fault.
  2. Being the cause or source of something

Source: TheFreeDictionary.com

The idiom conveys the same meaning as the expression "to be blamed"

Look at this example from the same source-

A freak storm was to blame for the power outage.

Therefore, your sentence- "He is to blame" is just a concise way of essentially saying the same thing- "He is to be blamed".

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+1 But I don't think it means exactly the same as "to be blamed". "He is to blame" is asserting that it is his fault. "He is to be blamed" could just be saying that blame will be attached to him in the future. –  Rupe Aug 5 at 18:49
    
Agreed. "to blame" is the definite way of implying that it was his fault. While "to be blamed" does have another meaning, as you point out, the intention of my answer is to explain to OP that "to blame" is not strange, and is inherently similar to what he has in mind. –  Manish Aug 5 at 18:52
    
Understood, but I think the answer would be improved if you added something explaining that difference. At the moment it's very much saying "the same" rather than "similar". –  Rupe Aug 5 at 20:43

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