‘Be‘ is a very important verb in English. We use it to talk about many things, such as name, age, height, weight, time, place, weather, jobs, etc.
Be tells us that something exists or happens. It can also show the nature and quality of things.
Forms of the verb ‘be’ in Present Simple
Be in the Present Simple Tense has the following forms:
|I am (I’m)|
You are (you’re)
He/she/it is (it’s)
|We are (we’re)|
You are (you’re)
They are (they’re)
*The contracted forms are written in brackets. They are used in more informal situations.
- Jack is a student. (he)
- His sister is a manager. (she)
- Jack is 20 and Tom is 26.
- They are from London.
- You are a nice person. (you singular)
- Both guys are dark-haired, and their eyes are blue. (they)
- The weather is great today. (it)
- We are happy to be here.
- You are all very talented people. (you plural)
|Note: In the plural, the verb ‘be’ only has one form – ‘are‘.|
- We are so happy together.
- Guys, you are so funny.
- They’re from London.
When to use the verb’ be’
1. We use the verb ‘be’ before nouns:
- I’m a firefighter.
- He’s a photographer.
2. We use the verb ‘be’ before adjectives:
- I’m busy.
- The shark is hungry.
3. We use the verb ‘be’ before prepositional phrases:
- We are from Japan.
- The ball is under the bed.
There is/there are
We use the verb ‘be’ impersonally to state the existence of something. When we use be in this way, the impersonal subject is ‘there’.
We use ‘there is’ for singular statements and ‘there are’ for plural statements. We can also use this impersonal phrase in interrogative sentences. When we use it in interrogatives, the word order is reversed.
- There is one person at the table.
- There are a lot of people here.
- Is there a good restaurant nearby?
- Are there many people there?
|Note: In everyday speech we normally use the short forms of ‘be’.|
– I’m 20 years old.
– It’s a beautiful day.
– They’re football fans.
‘Be’ as an auxiliary verb
As an auxiliary verb, the verb ‘be’ can be used to form:
1) continuous tense
- I am reading a book.
- They are talking too loudly.
- The rooms are cleaned every day.
- The car is repaired by Tom.
Here’s a useful video from Oxford English Online showing different usages of the verb ‘be’: