Do we need "to be"(or a form of 'to be') before adjectives? For example:

  1. I want my hair black.

  2. I want my hair to be black.

  1. This is ready to publish.

  2. This is ready to be published.

  1. I would like this short.

  2. I would like this to be short.

Would you tell me which of each pair is correct and explain the syntax behind it, please.

Thank you.

  • 1
    They are all fine. 1. and 5. are sometimes called the verbless (or 'small') clause variants of 2. and 6. The other two differ in that the subordinate clause in 3. is an active one, while that in 4. is passive.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 16:45
  • Thank you @BillJ . If 3 and 4 are different forms of voice with the same meaning, then in 3 does it mean the subject 'This' is publishing something or it is being published?
    – Guri
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 16:55
  • No, it means that has the property of being ready for publication.
    – BillJ
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 16:57
  • 1
    Thank you very much @ BillJ and @Cascabel , it was very helpful :)
    – Guri
    Commented Dec 29, 2020 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


All of them are correct difference being that in your paired alternatives first one ends with a complement - black , to publish and short and the second one is an elided /reduced adjective clause functioning as an adjective phrase.

  • which is to be short/ to be black /to be published*

You may use either.

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