I have a question

  1. He was to be home by now.

Does it mean he was supposed to come home either before now or maybe by now?

  1. He was to have been home by now.

That means he was supposed to have come by the time specified that means before that time, not at that time. Am I right? Please tell me when should I use them?

If I say it the following day, should I use No. 2? I am utterly confused by them.

4 Answers 4


Let's say you are speaking the following day. The correct form would be:

He was to have been home by 9.00pm (but he didn't arrive till midnight)

If you are speaking before the time of his being expected home, you would say:

He is to be home by 9.00pm

If I am reporting to someone that I have (or had) informed him of the time he is (or was) to be home I would say:

I told him he was to be home by 9.00pm

If I am reporting that he had told me that he would be home by 9.00pm then it is:

He informed me that he would be home by 9.00pm.


A quick additional comment re. use: we typically use this construction when we are describing "formal or official arrangements" (BBC, Learning English).

Example from today's NYT:

"Minutes after Mr. Trump was to have taken to a podium on the campus of a large, diverse public university just west of downtown, an announcer suddenly pronounced the event over before it had begun."


There's a IMPLICATION if someone says, "He was to have been home by then." The implication is that he never GOT home or got home pretty late. Otherwise, why would someone even mention it?

It's like saying, "Fred and Chrissie were to have been married last July." The listener is thinking; "OK, yeah, so what HAPPENED?".

If the listener gives voice to his thought and the speaker says, "Oh, it was great, except the maid of honor got bitten by a dog" then the listener might say, ".....so....why did you PHRASE your sentence like that if they actually GOT married?"

An answer that might make sense would be, "well, because it WAS to have been in July, but it got put off until October."

Uh....OK. I guess.


He was to have been home is incorrect. 'to be+to have +been' form cab only be used in passive voice. He was to have been sent home is correct.

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