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 Kirk. Got it.

Hello The LearnEnglish Team,

Could you explain me the usage of "tell" and "say."

Hi Dona S,

This is mentioned a little bit on our verbs followed by that clause page, but I'll briefly explain it here, too.

say and tell mean exactly the same thing and only differ in terms of grammatical use: tell must be followed by a direct personal object. For example, He told me his name, I will tell him that you're happy - notice that in both of these examples, tell is followed by a direct personal object (me and him). say does not require a direct personal object, e.g. He said his name, I will say that you're happy.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot Kirk

thanks

Hi Kirk,

Is there any difference between "she is in the toilet" and "she is on the toilet". These two are sometimes confusing me. Could you explain how I could use them correctly.

Hello Dona S,

Both of these can be used when someone goes to the toilet, but there is a slight difference.  When we say 'in the toilet' we mean either inside the actual toilet ('Oh no, I dropped my pen and it's in the toilet!') or, if we are talking about a person, in the room ('She's in the toilet but she'll be back in a moment').  When we say 'on the toilet' we mean actually using the toilet for what is it designed for.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much Peter, I got it.

Hi LearnEnglish Team,

I have a question for you about "shaking hands." For example: I would say, (a) Rob shook hands with Adam. (b) Rob shook hand with Adam. Are both the sentences correct?? If not, which one is the correct one?? Also, please explain me why. And, is it correct if I say, "Rob shook Adam´s hand" or it shoud be "hands"??? Awaiting your response. Thank you.

Hello Dona S,

You can say either of these, or you can say 'they shook hands with each other'; the meaning is the same as we assume that if, say, Rob shook hands with Adam then Adam also shook hands with Rob!

The answer to your second question is that the singular is correct - 'Rob shook Adam's hand'.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Pages