What does this structure mean: "to be had"?



There was satisfaction to be had in reversing viewpoints.

What does to be had mean in this sentence?


Posted 2016-08-12T11:12:23.127

Reputation: 111



Consider these two sentences:

the sailor loves the girl
the girl is loved.

The first sentence is called active voice- it says who did what to whom. The second sentence is passive voice: note that it doesn't say who is doing something: sometimes this is useful if we don't know, or don't care, or don't want to say who did something.

Moving on to your sentence:

You can have satisfaction in reversing viewpoints
Satisfaction can be had in reversing viewpoints.

The first of these sentences is an active voice version that expresses the same idea as the one in your question. The second sentence is in passive voice: it eliminates the need to say you, and so it suggests that anybody can have this satisfaction. From here it's a small step, just a matter of literary style, to your sentence:

There was satisfaction to be had in reversing viewpoints


Posted 2016-08-12T11:12:23.127

Reputation: 43 538


JavaLatte has a good explanation of how to reorder the sentence, making it active voice, in order to understand it a different way.

Beside reordering, you could also try replacing the phrase "to be had" with an equivalent word: "available".

There was satisfaction available in reversing viewpoints.

By reversing viewpoints, you can get satisfaction. There is some satisfaction available for you to have.


Posted 2016-08-12T11:12:23.127

Reputation: 3 272