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The verb 'be'

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:


(a) pity
(a) shame


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:



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:

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


Hello Dona S,

There are several ways to express the date in English. Your son's way is correct but is generally used in speech rather than writing, and I imagine this is why the teacher corrected it.

You can read more about how the date is said and written on this page;



The LearnEnglish Team

I read two sentences as follows: "On the first day, we went to the Buckingham Palace" and, "On the first day, we went to Buckingham Place." I have a doubt whether it´s "to" or "to the" is correct. Please explain.


Hello Dona

'to Buckingham Palace' is the best form to use here. Many buildings that have the name of their owner or builder in them (Buckingham Palace was named after Buckingham House, which was bought by the Duke of Buckingham) are not preceded by 'the', though there are many exceptions to this rule. Our definite articles page has more information on this topic in general if you're interested.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,
Please kindly explain me what is the difference between?
“There is been an accident” and “An accident has happened”

Hello Lasantha,

The first sentence is not correct. You can, however, say

There has been an accident.


The difference between There has been an accident and An accident has happened is really only one of style. I think the first sentence is much more common in English. The second feels a little clumsy in terms of style, though grammatically it is perfectly fine.



The LearnEnglish Team

hello! need some help with something
now, I've heard before that the following: is, are, was, were can be used as an auxiliary verb, full verb or verb to be EX:

aux verb :

"he is playing football"

full verb:

"they are fifteen years old"

the verb to be:

"My mother is a teacher"

and the point is: I don't understand the difference between "be" as a verb to be and "be" as the full verb help!

Hello Maurox54,

Auxiliary verbs in English are used in many ways. We use them to make questions, negatives, emphatic forms, progressive forms, perfect forms and passive voice, for example. There are a number of verbs used in this way: be, have and do are the most common but there are others.

When we use a verb as an auxiliary it does not have an inherent meaning. It rather has a grammatical function, changing the main verb into a different form. That is why we do not study auxiliary verbs as a category but rather study the forms which they help to make (progressive aspect, passive voice etc.).



The LearnEnglish Team

'Why natural is not always be safe for babies'

This is the headline in newspaper. What is this 'be' doing here?
What if we write it without 'be' ?


Hello dipakrgandhi,

In my estimation, that is a mistake. I agree with you: 'be' should be omitted. This is probably just an error their proofreader missed.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Team,
Kindly explain me the below context,
We are blessed with a baby boy, and
We have blessed with a baby boy.
Which one is more correct?