You are here

The verb 'be'

Undefined

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

Dear Sir,

Kindly see the following sentences.

1) The Crime Branch sleuths had identified John to be deceased in the first week of December 2019. (Here I would like to know whether we can use "being" in the place of "to be" and rewrite the sentence as "The Crime Branch sleuths had identified John being deceased in the first week of December 2019.")

2) The police on reaching his area found the house to be locked. (Here also I would like to know whether this sentence can rewrite as " The police on reaching his area found the house being locked.")

Thank you.

Thanks a lot sir.

Hello Aniyanmon,

You cannot use 'being' in either sentence without changing other aspects.

When a participle phrase is used, it always refers to the subject of the main clause. Thus, if you use 'being' in the first sentence it would mean that the Crime Brnach sleuths were deceased, not John.

 

 

You cannot use 'being' in the second sentence either. 'Locked' here has a passive meaning, so a past participle is needed, not a present participle, which would have an active meaning.

 

You can read more about participles and their uses on this page.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, I found this sentences below on my english exercise.

A : Do you like your new job?
B : Yes, but my employer insist that I be on time.

I really don't understand why that sentence uses 'be' instead of 'am' after subject 'I'

Best regard

Achmad

Hello Achmad Shocheb

In this case, 'be' is a subjunctive form. If you'd like to know more about the subjunctive, I'd suggest this Wikipedia article, but in general I would recommend that you just learn that the verb 'insist' is followed by a 'that' clause with the verb in the base/bare infinitive form.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, would you please tell me if this makes sense:
Being defeated, he couldn't smile.
All the best,
Oleg

Hello gerol2000,

The sentence is grammatically correct. Of course, whether or not it is correct in context will depend on the context.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks a lot, Peter. The context is: I am telling my friend about the fight I so yesterday. I don't use the present tense for the story, I just say that he did this and his opponent that and etc.
But I guess another way is also possible, when I mean present or future. For example if I mean that 'being defeated he will/would never be able to send a smile to his fans'. Is my guess right?

Hello everybody,

Am I right implying that in "That being said', being said is a present participle in passive? If yes, could you please give an example where it is a gerund in another context?
Best Regards,
Oleg

Hello Oleg

I can't think of an instance in which 'being' in 'that being said' could be considered a gerund. 'Being a teacher was never something he'd considered' is an example in which 'being' is a gerund.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Pages