Could you please explain to me what grammar is this

"…many blessings in the year to come".

I mean I'm having difficulty to understand why there is "to" before "come".

They teach us here that part "to" means infinitive "I want to dance" and "what do I want to do." And it's clear for me. But how come "blessings to come" is infinitive... or what is this? What should I search in Google to read more about it?

  • This is a deleted form; many years ago, you might have seen "…many blessings in the year which is to come". – Edwin Ashworth Dec 24 '17 at 11:11
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    So can I consider "to come" as "...in the year that is about to come"? – Kris Dec 24 '17 at 11:25
  • @EdwinAshworth But the question is why there is "to" before "come". The same question applies even if you put "which is" before it. It literally means "...the year which WILL come." But I likewise don't quite grasp why the infinitive works. – Chuckk Hubbard Apr 9 '18 at 0:59

An infinitive can act as a subject or object.  In "I want to dance", the infinitive "to dance" is the direct object that represents the thing that I want.  However, that's not the only way that an infinitive can act. 

Infinitives can also act as general modifiers, often expressing semantics like purpose, intent and result.  We can talk about things like the question to ask, the person to see, the place to go, the thing to try -- and in all of these cases a common noun is directly modified by the following infinitive. 

"The year to come" is a common noun directly modified by the following infinitive.  In this case, the infinitive represents something like inevitable result.  The year in question will come because it must come.  There are, in fact, many years to come -- infinitely many years if time itself has no end.  The definite article in "the year to come" is enough to let us know that the year in question is the next year to come, the year that immediately follows the current year. 

The verb "to come" shows us one reason that bare infinitives don't work well as adjectival modifiers.  The bare infinitive form is "come", but so is the past-participle form.  "The year come" is more likely to be interpreted as the current year -- the year that has come rather than the year that is to come.  Also, the bare infinitive is the same form as a simple present-tense form: "The years come" is more likely to be interpreted as a complete independent clause, not a mere noun phrase. 

Useful search topics include use of to-infinitive and infinitive of purpose intent result

  • I'm surprised that we don't call infinitives used as substantives "gerunds" and those used as modifiers "participles" the way we do with -ing verbs. It's exactly the same difference. German calls infinitives used as nouns "gerunds", and what Spanish and Portuguese calls "gerunds" are always modifiers not substantives. We should definitely start calling more things in English "gerunds" since it's such a silly term. :) – tchrist Dec 24 '17 at 20:36
  • Substantive infinitives and gerunds do have a lot in common, in that they're both noun-like in use and verb-like in the arguments that they take. A common label would be nice. However, gerunds share their aspect with the so-called present participles. Both are continuous. The infinitive, on the other hand, resembles a simple tensed verb in that both have indefinite aspect. The -ing forms have a definite aspect: they are continuous, regardless of whether substantive, attributive or adjunctive, and regardless of whether there's any difference between attributive and adjunctive. – Gary Botnovcan Dec 25 '17 at 2:33
  • @GaryBotnovcan Is this "common noun directly modified by the following infinitive" the same as in "something to eat," "the first one to arrive," or "You are not to talk during class"? Adding "that is" before "to come" doesn't explain much, IMO. – Chuckk Hubbard Apr 9 '18 at 1:05
  • "Something to eat" and "the first one to arrive" are examples of direct infinitive modifiers. "You are not to talk during class" is an example of a licensed infinitive modifier. The phrase "[not] to talk during class" is an indirect modifier of the personal pronoun "you" because it is directly the argument of the verb "is". Anyway, if it helps, you can instead compare "the year that had come" to "the year that will come" to help you distinguish between "the year come" and "the year to come". – Gary Botnovcan Apr 9 '18 at 16:41

..many blessings in the year to come. It means that there will be many blessings in future. The phrase "to come" is showing that the blessings will come.

  • Yes, I understand that. But can't get what grammar this is. They teach us here that part "to" means infinitive "I want to dance" what do I want to do. And it's clear for me. But how come "blessings to come" is infinitive...or what is this? What should I search in Google to read more about it? – Kris Dec 24 '17 at 10:59
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    Incorrect. Here, the adjectival 'to come' modifies 'the year'; 'many blessings in the coming year' is a paraphrase. The string "…many blessings to come in the future" indicates that the blessings will / are yet to come. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 24 '17 at 11:09
  • Oh yes. I'm sorry. Yes yes. The to come is modifying the year. – feri ariyatmoko Dec 24 '17 at 11:12

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