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 very much Peter. Have a nice Weekend!!

Hi LearnEnglish Team,

Could you please check the following paragraph and let me know whether everything is written correctly. If there are any changes , please mark them.

"We focus on continuous improvement in our company and would appreciate if you take a little time to fill out our questionnaire. Your Evaluation will help us to further optimize the service and services and increas customer satisfaction.

Thank you.

Hi Dora,

I'm afraid we don't correct users' submissions on LearnEnglish - this is a job for a local teacher where you live.  I know it would be very popular, but that is the problem: if we started doing this then we would have no time for anything else!

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Peter, got it.

Hi LearnEnglish Team,

Could you tell me the difference between "friendly with me" and "friendly to me."

Thank you.

Hello Dona S,

I would say 'friendly to' tends to describe behaviour - how a person acts - while 'friendly with' tends to refer more to a relationship - how a person feels.  However, that said, I think the distinction is both very subtle and very small and I can't think of a context in which one would be appropriate and the other would not.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter. It´s a bit confusing. You could give me some examples if you like (some sentences).

Hello Dona S,

As I said, the distinction is very subtle and I can't think of an example in which only is possible and the other not.  I would usually say 'friendly to' when I talk about a person's behaviour in a particular situation:

She wasn't very friendly to me then, was she?

But I would tend to say 'friendly with' when talking about the general relationship between people:

She's very friendly with my sister.  They've know each other since primary school.

I hope that helps to clarify it.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi LearnEnglish Team,

I have a quesion about "family." According to my knowledge it could be both singular and plural. How do I say this sentence? My family "live" in London OR my family "lives" in London.

My second question is; When you say "I met with an accident" Should it be always something to do with a vehicle (car or van etc.)?

Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

Hello Dona S,

Both 'live' and 'lives' are possible here.  The choice depends entirely on the speaker: if you wish to present the family more as a unit/as a whole then you might say 'lives', whereas if you are thinking of the family as a collection of people/individuals you might say 'live'.

In modern English it is much more common to say 'I had an accident'.  The phrase 'meet with an accident' is not wrong, and has the meaning of 'an accident happened to me', but does sound rather archaic to the modern ear, I would suggest.  It does not have to involve a vehicle; it can refer to any unpleasant accident.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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