Can “to” ever be a Prep or a Particle before “be”? If so can anyone think of an example?

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    Historically, what is now called the "infinitive marker" was a preposition: in OE, the infinitive acted as a nominal and was declined like a noun. And there are to this day expressions in which it is difficult to argue that the prepositional character has been completely obliterated by grammaticalization: for instance, Prof. Sartorius went on to be named Chairman of the Department. May 7, 2016 at 13:57

1 Answer 1


"Can where he went to be revealed?"

Q (where he went to can be revealed)
Q (someone can reveal Q (he went to where))

Schematically, we start with

... can reveal ... [PP to where]  

which is converted to the passive,

... [PP to where] ... can be revealed  

the "where" moves out of the way between "to" and "be" because the question word has to be at the beginning of the embedded question,

... [PP to] can be revealed  

and finally "can" moves out of the way because it has to be inverted with the subject of the upstairs Q,

... [PP to] be ...

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