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

Thank you Peter. Have a nice day!

Hi LearnEnglish Team,

When somebody wants to have your address, phone number etc. you could say, "he asked my address/phone number" or "he asked for my address/phone number??? You Need to use a preposition in this sentence?? please explain this to me. Thanks.

Hi Dona,

The correct question is with the preposition for. You can ask a question, ask someone to do something, but when you request a thing, you should say ask for that thing. This topic in general is explained a bit more on our two- and three-part verbs page, and is just the way that English has evolved over time.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Kirk.

Hi LearnEnglish Team,

I would like to know how to use the articles "a" and "an" when some words begin with "y" since they sound "e". For example the word "year." According to my knowledge, vowels are "a,e,i,o,u and sometimes y". "Year" has "e" sound. Which article could I use in the following sentence?? " I visit my friend once a year" or is it "I visit my friend once an year." Please explain. Thank you.

Hi Dona,

The y at the beginning of the word year and most other words that begin with the letter y is considered to be a consonant. The y at the end of the word friendly or in the word gymnastics are examples of y as a vowel.

Therefore you should say "I visit my friend once a year" (not an year).

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot for the response Kirk. Have a great weekend.

Hi LearnEnglish Team,

I heard the following sentence in one of your dialogues. "He won´t get lost on a dark night." My question is, WHY should it be "on a dark night," NOT "in a dark night"? Please explain. Thank you.

Hello Dona S,

Prepositions are a tricky area in English, with many small differences in meaning between them, and different prepositions possible in different contexts.  Usually we say 'at night' when we talk about nighttime, but when we add an adjective in a narrative we use 'on a (adjective) night'.  'In' is quite rarely used with 'night', and generally we see it only when we are talking in general and using the definite article ('People are often scared when they wake up in the night') or talking about 'a night' as a length of time ('He finished the job in a night').

As I said, it is complex, but I hope the explanation above help you with it.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much Peter. I got it. In American English, I often hear "in the night," but not "at night." For example; "they work in the night." Is it wrong if somebody says so? Should it be corrected as "they work at night"???

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