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

Hello birajmehta,

The construction here is a passive form of the infinitive:

continue to do (continue + to infinitive)

continue to be done (continue + passive infinitive)

You can read more about passive forms on this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Should I test the feature to see whether the class will get cancelled after the 11th minute would pass?

Is this grammatically correct ? How could I express myself better in this situation? I know about the conditionals but I am not sure if I can use it in this situation or if I can I don't know how.

Hello Sash,

I'm actually not sure what you're trying to say here. The grammatical form you are using is not correct as we would not mix 'will' and 'would' in this way, but I don't understand the sentence you are trying to say, so it's hard to suggest how to say it. If you can explain what you mean then we can try to help.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I am trying to understand which is the subject +passive verb+ infinitive in this sentence
"A large number of contemporary Egyptian traditions are said to have their origons in very ancient times"
Please can you help me?

Hello Scarlett,

Generally we do not provide answers to exercises from elsewhere for our users as we simply have too many users to do so. However, I will tell you that the key here is that there is a very long subject ('A large number of contemporary Egyptian traditions') - once you identify this I think you can find the passive verb and infinitive.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again!
Is the following sentence grammatically correct?
I would choose what to drink depending on the sort of mood I'm in.

Hello Sash,

Without a context it is difficult to comment for sure, but there seems to be a conflict here.

If the sentence refers to a particular hypothetical situation, then we would use was rather than am:

I would choose what to drink depending on the sort of mood I was in.

On the other hand, if the sentence refers to typical behaviour (rather than a particular example), then we would use the present simple rather than would:

I choose what to drink depending on the sort of mood I'm in.

However, it is possible to make a sentence which contains both would and the present simple. I have done so as part of this answer:

If the sentence refers to typical behaviour, then we would use the present simple rather than would.

However, this is because there is an implied second clause here:

If the sentence refers to typical behaviour, then we would use the present simple rather than would if we needed to say it.

In other words, the would is justified because of the implied contextual meaning, which is why the context is important in answering your question.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Thank you so much Mr. Peter for your concise answer. I appreciate it.

Sir, I when should I use "I am being a doctor" and "I am a doctor".

Hello Jefrieap,

We do not generally use 'be' in continuous forms as a main verb, so 'I am a doctor' is the correct form and 'I am being...' is not correct.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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