Level: beginner

The verb be has the following forms:

The verb be
Infinitive form be
Present simple: + I am, I'm
You are, You're
He/She/It is, He/She/It's
We are, we're
You are, you're
They are, they're
? Am I?
Are you?
Is he/she it?
Are we?
Are you?
Are they?
- I am not, I’m not
You are not, You aren’t, You're not
He/She/It is not, He/She/It isn’t, He's not
We are not, We aren’t, We're not
You are not, You aren’t, You're not
They are not, They aren't, They're not

 
Past simple + I was
You were
He/She/It was
We were
You were
They were
? Was I?
Were you?
Was he/she/it?
Were we?
Were you?
Were they?
- I was not, I wasn't
You were not, You weren't
He/She/It was not, He/She/It wasn't
We were not, We weren't
You were not, You weren't
They were not, They weren't
Past participle been
Present perfect has/have been
Past perfect had been
Present participle being
Present continuous am/is/are being
Past continuous was/were being

We use the infinitive form be with modal verbs:

It will be dark soon.
They might be tired.

The verb be is a link verb. It is used:

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

This soup is very tasty.
The children were good.

  • with a prepositional phrase:

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

am, is, are 1
ex. am, is, are 1
am, is, are 2
ex. am, is, are 2
am, is, are, was, were 1
ex. am, is, are, was, were 1
am, is, are, was, were 2
ex. am, is, are, was, were 2

Level: intermediate

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

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

be in continuous and passive forms 1
ex. be in continuous and passive forms 1
be in continuous and passive forms 2
ex. be in continuous and passive forms 2

Level: advanced

We use some nouns with the verb be followed by a that clause:

The problem was that I had no money.
The obvious explanation is that he simply forgot.
The danger is that the whole thing might catch fire.
It's a pity that the children aren't here.
The lucky thing is that nobody was hurt.

Nouns commonly used in this way are:

answer
argument
assertion
belief
claim
explanation
feeling

hope
idea
(a) pity
rule
(a) shame
thing

 

We use some nouns with the verb be followed by a to-infinitive:

The only way is to start all over again.
His answer is to work a bit harder.
Her only hope was to find a new job as soon as possible.
The easiest thing would be to ask your father.

Nouns commonly used in this way are:

answer
decision
hope
idea
intention
promise
thing
way
wish

 

To comment on statements, we use some adjectives with it and the verb be and a that clause or wh-clause:

It's lucky that we met.
It's not clear what happened.
It was amazing how he managed to escape.

Adjectives commonly used in this way are:

awful
bad
clear
extraordinary
funny
good
interesting
lucky
obvious
possible
probable
sad
true
unlikely
be with nouns and adjectives 1
ex. be with nouns and adjectives 1
be with nouns and adjectives 2
ex. be with nouns and adjectives 2

Comments

I expect my instructions to be carried out to the letter.
Can you please tell me what part of grammar is 'to be carried out'?

Hello Sash,

That is a passive infinitive, i.e. an infinitive in the passive voice.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir , this is a sentence I have read : While talks were on between Democrats in Congress and Trump earlier this week on legislation to protect young undocumented migrants, who were Trump has given Congress six months to enact a replacement plan for DACA recipients.

I have not understood what ' who were ' is doing here.

Would you explain ?

Thank you

Hello dipakrgandhi,

As written, that sentence is incorrect. Either you have made a mistake in copying it or the author has made a mistake when writing it.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you. I have copied it correctly; may be it is author's mistake.

Hello!
I couldn't find the right section in the list of grammar units, so maybe here you could answer my question: is it corect to say " to be popular among"? Or in all cases "be popular with" must be used?
Thanks a lot!

Hello Daniel157,

It's good to consult a dictionary for this kind of question. In the Cambridge Dictionary entry for 'popular', you will see the answer to your question in the example sentences, where both 'with' and 'among' are used.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I'd live in a big house by the sea if I were rich
In the above sentance can we use was instead of were. I think we use were only for plurals.

Hello Satish Patil,

Both 'was' and 'were' are possible in conditional sentences of this kind. In fact, in the past it used to be only 'were' that was acceptable, but not 'was' is also quite common. The reason for the use of 'were' is that the past form in these conditionals is actually not the past simple but the past subjunctive. The past subjunctive is identical in form to the past simple apart from this use of 'were'.

I think in formal contexts 'were' is still preferable, but 'was' is quite common in more informal language.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

By our conduct god requires that we be holy. Why does it say "we be" instead of "we are"? Thanks for your answer.

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