The verb be has the following forms:

Present simple: Affirmative I am
You are
He/She/It is
We are
You are
They are
  Question form: Am I?
Are you?
Is he/she it?
Are we?
Are you?
Are they?
  Negative: I am not/ I’m not
You are not/ aren’t
He/She/It is not/ isn’t
We are not/aren’t
You are not/aren’t
They are not/aren't
Past simple   I was
You were
He/She/It was
We were
You were
They were
The past participle:   been.  
Present perfect:   has/have been  
Past perfect:   had been  

 The verb be is used in the following patterns:

1. with a noun:

My mother is a teacher.
Bill Clinton was the president of the US.

2. with an adjective:

This soup is very tasty.
The children were good.

2.1 with the -ing form to make the continuous aspect

We were walking down the street.
Everything was wet. It had been raining for hours.

2.2 with the -ed form to make the passive voice

The house was built in 1890.
The street is called Montagu Street.
This car was made in Japan.

3. with a prepositional phrase:

John and his wife are from Manchester.
The flowers are on the table.








Hi again would you say these 2 sentences are equally used in spoken English ?
The best style possible / The best possible style and
The best thing imaginable / The best imaginable thing

also would you say that
The first train available in the morning is more colloquial than
The first available train in the morning. ?

with thanks

Hello dupontm,

All of those sentences are correct. I wouldn't like to say that any of them are definitively more or less colloquial as this is quite a subjective question. The alternatives are not actually merely questions of word order, in fact: where the adjective follows the noun the structure is actually a reduced relative clause. For example:

The best style possible > The best style (which is) possible

I would say that the versions with the adjective following the noun are less common in general, but I would not go further than that.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

hi it appears I found this question-answer page when originally typing in VERB BE IN ENGLISH, not specifying British Council, but I don't seem to find the same section for other questions when typing British Council so how do I get direct to the Q&A page ?

Hi dupontm,

We don't have a specific Q&A page for the site but most pages have a comments section where it is possiblet to ask questions. We try to answer as many questions as we can but we are a small team and we don't offer online lessons!


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

is it possible or not to use "were" like this : we were lived here in 2015. ?

Hello aa,

The sentence you ask about is an example of a passive verb form. It is formed correctly, but because 'live' is an intransitive verb, it is not used in the passive – therefore that sentence doesn't make any sense.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

thank you so much sir. what about if we used it like this sir :
"if we were lived here, our cat would not die like that."
many thanks for your answer.

Hello aa,

The correct form here would be 'If we lived here, our cat would not die like that'. The tense needed is past simple, which does not require 'were' unless it is a passive form, as Kirk said.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I want to know whether this statement, " I WANT TO ADMIT MYSELF INTO A COLLEGE", is correct. Do favour me....

Hello Ali Azam Russell,

No, 'admit' doesn't generally take a reflexive pronoun and certainly not in this context. I'd suggest something like 'I'd like to be admitted to a college' or 'I'd like to get into a college' as alternatives.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team