Which one among the following is correct?

These were found missing.


These were found to be missing.

For me the former one sounds little bit odd since "found" and "missing" are next to each other.

  • These were found missing. is acceptable, with the phrase to be being dropped without loss of meaning. The two sentences mean the same. He was caught stealing is fine, too.
    – Kris
    Jan 21, 2014 at 6:40

1 Answer 1


I would suggest you follow your instinct on this and go with found to be missing.

Although "found missing" can be used, it is far more common, perhaps for the reason you have given, for something to be "found to be missing".

If you search for examples of "found missing", the vast majority of responses will be followed by a noun (or a determiner + noun) , e.g.

Hunters may have found missing Iowa cousins.
Woman Who Apparently Found Missing Dog Accused Of Taking Off With Pup

In fact, this grammar site listed it as #28 in a list of 100 awfully good oxymorons, along with alone together and definite maybe. So while it can be done, it may very well be found to be humorous as well.

Even then, its use can result in a double take:

Explosives found to be missing in hunt for bomb plot clue.

  • Those examples you provided are only written as found missing because they are headlines that skipped a few words: Hunters may have found [the] missing Iowa cousins.
    – IQAndreas
    Jan 21, 2014 at 9:12
  • 1
    @IQAndreas He hoped that his story about Tali would not put her in harms way. He knew that once he was found missing, extra security would be put on his siblings and they would be safe. (K.L.Scott,2008); Sometimes objects would be found missing as well. Nobody could figure out what was happening. (Jennifer Waller,Torn,2005); The ballots in the twenty- third election district were found missing on election day. (US Cong HsCommOnElections#3); ...
    – Kris
    Jan 21, 2014 at 11:25
  • @Susan No not at all; I just figured it was worth mentioning why those "vast majority are followed by nouns". Kris provided a few great examples of "proper" use of found missing (and to reinforce the point you made in your answer, in all those cases, the words could just as easily be replaced with found to be missing).
    – IQAndreas
    Jan 22, 2014 at 2:15

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