Verb To Be: uses, conjugations, examples and exercises

O verb to be is one of the most used verbs in the English language and can be translated as to be or be.

There is no rule for knowing when it means to be and when does it mean be. It is necessary to understand the meaning of the message expressed as a whole, to then understand the meaning of the verb in the sentence.

The verb I'm well it is classified as irregular verb, since it does not follow the simple past and past participle formation rules.

It can be used as main verb It is like auxiliary verb of some verbal tenses.

Conjugations: present, past and future

Check out the information below about the use of the verb to be like main verb.

At the Simple Present(simple present), the inflections of the verb to be they are am, is and are.

affirmative Negative Interrogative
I am I'm I am not - Am I???
you are you're you are not you aren't Are you???
he is he's he is not he isn't Is he???
she she is she she's she is not she isn't Is she???
it is it's It is not it isn't Is it???
we are we're we are not we aren't Are we???
you are you're you are not you aren't Are you???
they are they're they are not they aren't Are they???

Examples:

  • I am not a doctor. (I'm not a doctor.) BE
  • I am not at home. (I'm not at home.) BEING
  • is is a soccer player? (Is he a soccer player?) BE
  • is he at school? (Is he at school?) BEING
  • she isn't my friend. (She is not my friend.) BE
  • she isn't tired. (She is not tired.) BEING
  • what's that? It is the turtle. (What is that? It's a turtle.) BE
  • Onde's the book? It is on the table. (Where is the book? It's on the table.) BEING
  • we aren't students. (We are not students.) BE
  • we aren't on the bus. (We are not on the bus.) BEING
  • you are great teachers. (You are great teachers.) BE
  • you are hungry! (You are hungry!) BEING
  • Are are they Brazilian? (Are they Brazilian?) BE
  • Are Are they thirsty? (Are they thirsty?) BEING

Remember that in English, the personal pronouns (personal pronouns) in the singular are: I, you, he, she, it. In the plural we have: we, you and they.

At the Simple Past (simple past), the inflections of the verb to be they are was and were.

affirmative Negative Interrogative
I was - I was not I wasn't Was I???
you were you're you were not you weren't Were you???
he was he's he was not he wasn't Was he???
she she was she she's she she was not she she wasn't Was she???
she it was it's it was not It wasn't Was it???
we were we're we were not we weren't Were we???
you were you're you were not you weren't Were you???
they were they're they were not they weren't Were they???

Examples:

  • I was not a doctor. (I was not a doctor.) BE
  • I was not at home. (I wasn't at home.) BEING
  • Was is a soccer player? (Was he a soccer player?) BE
  • Was he at school? (Was he at school?) BEING
  • she wasn't my friend. (She was not my friend.) BE
  • she wasn't tired. (She wasn't tired.) BEING
  • what's that? It was the turtle. (What was that? It was a turtle.) BE
  • Onde's the book? It was on the table. (Where was the book? It was on the table.) BEING
  • we weren't students. (We weren't students.) BE
  • we weren't on the bus. (We weren't on the bus.) BEING
  • you were great teachers. (You were great teachers.) BE
  • you were hungry! (You were hungry!) BEING
  • were are they Brazilian? (Were they Brazilian?) BE
  • were Are they thirsty? (Were they thirsty?) BEING

At the Simple Future (simple future), the inflections of the verb to be are always will be.

affirmative Negative Interrogative
I will be I'll be I will not be I won't be Will I be???
you will be you'll be you will not be you won't be Will you be???
he will be hell be he will not be he won't be Will he be???
she she will be she she'll be she she will not be she she wo n't be Will she be???
it will be it'll be it will not be it won't be Will it be???
we will be we'll be we will not be we won't be Will we be???
you will be you'll be you will not be you won't be Will you be???
they will be they'll be they will not be they won't be Will they be???

Examples:

  • I will not be to doctor. (I will not be a doctor.) BE
  • I will not be At home. (I won't be home.) BEING
  • will he well the soccer player? (Will he be a soccer player?) BE
  • will he well at school? (Will he be at school?) BEING
  • she won't be my friend. (She won't be my friend.) BE
  • she won't be so tired when she finishes exercising. (She won't be that tired when she's done exercising.) BEING
  • what will you be when you grow up? (What will you be when you grow up?) BE
  • Onde will you be in the afternoon? (Where will you be in the afternoon?) BEING
  • we won't be veterinarians. (We will not be veterinarians.) BE
  • we won't be on the bus by this time tomorrow. (We won't be on the bus at this time tomorrow.) BEING
  • you will be great teachers. (You will be great teachers.) BE
  • you will be together next week.(You'll be together next week) BEING
  • will they well the new directors? (Will they be the new directors?) BE
  • will they well in Brazil next month? (Will they be in Brazil next month?) BEING

Now that you have seen the conjugation tables, take a look at the explanations below with a summary of how to form sentences in affirmative, negative and interrogative forms, including the contracted form.

Affirmative form (Affirmative Form)

in sentences affirmatives, the verb must be positioned after the subject:

  • Simple Present: he is the good dancer. (He is a good dancer.)
  • Simple Past:he wasthe good dancer. (He was a good dancer.)
  • Simple Future: he will be the good dancer. (He will be a good dancer.)

In the example above, he (he) is the subject and is (é), was (it was and will be (it will be) are inflections of the verb to be in the third person singular.

Negative form (Negative Form)

To express denial in one sentence, one should use not (no) after the verbto be:

  • Simple Present: He is not the good dancer. (He is not a good dancer.)
  • Simple Past: He was not the good dancer. (He was not a good dancer.)
  • Simple Future: He will not be a good dancer. (He will not be a good dancer.)

In the example above, not (not) is positioned after is (é), was (it was and will be (it will be), which are inflections of the verb to be in the third person singular.

Interrogative form (Interrogative Form)

To do questions, the verb must be positioned before the subject:

  • Simple Present: Is he the good dancer? (Is he a good dancer?)
  • Simple Past: was he the good dancer? (Was he a good dancer?)
  • Simple Future: will he Are you a good dancer? (Will he be a good dancer?)

In the example above, he (he) is the subject and is (é), was (it was and will be (it will be) are inflections of the verb to be in the third person singular.

Contracted form (Contracted Form)

In English, when in the same word we join a pronoun + a verb, or a verb + not, we have a contracted form, a contracted form.

Generally, contracted forms are used in affirmative and negative sentences. However, they can also be used in interrogative sentences when the question is intended to confirm something.

affirmative

Check out below how to make sentences with the verb to be in the affirmative contracted form:

Simple Present
contracted forms am = 'm is = 's are = 're
Examples I am At home. > Im At home. (I am at home.) he is the good dancer. > he's the good dancer. (He is a good dancer.) they are tired. > they’re tired. (They are tired.)
Simple Past
contracted forms was ='s were = 're
Examples

he was the good dancer. > he's the good dancer. (He was a good dancer.)

they were tired. > they’re tired. (They were tired.)

NOTE: there is no contracted form for the statement in the first person singular of the Simple Past. Therefore, the only possible way is I was.

Simple Future
contracted forms will be = 'll be
Examples

he will be the good dancer. > hell be the good dancer. (He will be a good dancer.)

they will be tired. > they'll be tired. (They will be tired.)

Negative

Simple Present
contracted forms is not = isn't are not = aren't
Examples he is not the good dancer. > He isn't the good dancer. (He is not a good dancer.) they are not tired > they aren't tired. (They are not tired.)

NOTE: despite the existence of still as contracted form of am + not it is considered wrong by many grammarians and for that reason its use is not recommended. This form is very popular in today's music.

Simple Past
contracted forms was not = wasn't were not = weren't
Examples

he was not the good dancer. > he wasn't the good dancer. (He was not a good dancer.)

they were not thirsty. > they weren't thirsty. (They weren't thirsty.)
Simple Future
contracted forms will not be = won't be
Examples

he will not be the good dancer. > He won't be the good dancer. (He will not be a good dancer.)

they will not be tired. > they won't be tired. (They won't be tired.)

Interrogative

Simple Present
contracted forms is not = isn't are not = aren't
Examples Isn't is a good dancer? (Is he not a good dancer?) Arent Are they tired? (Aren't they tired?)

NOTE: don't forget that despite the existence of still as contracted form of am + not, it is considered wrong by many grammarians and for that reason its use is not recommended.

Simple Past
contracted forms was not = wasn't were not = weren't
Examples

Wasn't is a good dancer? (He was not a good dancer.)

Weren't Are they tired? (Weren't they tired?)
Simple Future
contracted forms will not be = won't be
Examples

won't he well the good dancer? (Won't he be a good dancer?)

won't they well tired? (Won't they be tired?)

Verb to be as auxiliary verb

The verb to be can also be used as an auxiliary verb. This happens when it has the function of helping another verb, the main verb.

Like auxiliary verb, the verb to be it does not change the meaning of the main verb and therefore has no translation.

See what the main uses are:

Passive voice training

Passive voice is used to report what happened to the object of action.

The formation of the passive voice follows the following structure:

to be + past participate of the main verb

Examples:

my birthday cake wasmade by my mother. (My birthday cake was made by my mother.)

was = verb to be at the Simple Past.
made = verb to make at the Past Participle (past participle).

the toys were broken by the kids. (The toys were broken by the children.)

were = verb to be at the Simple Past.
broken = verb to break at the Past Participle (past participle).

the play is directed by my brother. (The play is directed by my brother.)

is = verb to be at the Simple Present.
directed = verb I'm direct at the Past Participle (past participle).

Formation of verbal utterances

A verbal phrase is formed when two or more verbs have a value of one.

Examples:

he is studying Italian. (He is studying Italian.)

is = verb to be at the Simple Present.
studying = verb to study in Gerund (gerund).

they were working at that company. (They were working at that company.)

were = verb to be at the Simple Past.
working = verb to work in Gerund (gerund).

In both examples, the two verbs (to be + gerund) have the value of Present Continuous (present continuous).

Entrance Exam Exercises

1. (UNIFOR/CE)

Cooking Kitties

Maryann Mott

Feline asthma [TO BE] a new disease. It was first described in scientific literature more than 90 years ago, says veterinarian Philip Padrid of the Family Pet Animal Hospital in Chicago.

Nicki Reed, a veterinarian at the University of Edinburgh's Hospital for Small Animals, says that when a coughing cat is brought to the clinic, she must first establish if [ARTICLE] cause is [ARTICLE] infection, asthma, or something more sinister, like a lung mass.

To do this, Reed usually performs an x-ray, takes a lung fluid sample, and conducts a bronchcoscopy _ an examination that uses a flexible microscope inserted into the cat's airway.

Most of the time, asthma is a mild disease, Reed says. But in some cases cat’s lungs collapse or their ribs fracture due to difficulty in breathing.

“I think if we can identify asthmatic cats quite early and get treatments on board to suppress their cough, then hopefully we can avoid them coming to such extremes,” she said.

(Adapted from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/10/1025_051025_cat_asthma.html)

The correct form of the verb in “Feline asthma [TO BE] a new disease.” is

a) is not.
b) wasn’t.
c) is.
d) was.
e) were.

Alternative to: isn’t.

In the sentence, the noun that precedes the verb is the noun asthma (asthma).

asthma it is a disease and therefore corresponds to the pronoun it (third person singular) used for things, places, objects and animals.

Of the options available, only a) isn't, B) wasn't and c) is are used with the third person singular.

To fill the gap, we need to understand the entire first paragraph. Watch:

Feline asthma [TO BE] a new disease. It was first described in scientific literature more than 90 years ago, says veterinarian Philip Padrid of the Family Pet Animal Hospital in Chicago.

(Feline asthma [TO BE] a new disease. It was first described in the scientific literature more than 90 years ago, says veterinarian Philip Padrid of Family Pet Animal Hospital (Family Pet Hospital) in Chicago.)

When we conclude this reading, we can see that feline asthma was first described over 90 years ago, that is, it it is not a new disease.

Therefore, the inflection of the verb to be to fill the sentence must be used in the negative form. With that, alternative c) is is discarded.

As the statement is in the present tense, the correct answer is isn't.

See how the complete sentence looks like:

feline asthma isn't a new disease. It was first described in scientific literature more than 90 years ago, says veterinarian Philip Padrid of the Family Pet Animal Hospital in Chicago.

(feline asthma it is not a new disease. It was first described in the scientific literature more than 90 years ago, says veterinarian Philip Padrid of Family Pet Animal Hospital (Family Pet Hospital) in Chicago.)

2. (UNIFOR/CE)

Robotic Engineers:

Engineers [TO BE] needed to build robots that do everything from assembling machinery to caring for aging parents.

Tech Teachers:

Technology use increases in all industries, more adult education teachers are needed to give workers the skills to survive. About half of all adults are currently enrolled in an adult-education class.

Tech Support:

Technology isn't infallible, and skilled workers who can fix frustrating problems are rarely needed. Estimates show a 222 percentage boost in computer-support jobs by 2008.

(Newsweek, April 30, 2001)

The correct form of the verb to be in the first paragraph is

a) was being.
b) is.
c) will be.
d) was.
e) has been.

Alternative c: will be.

In the sentence to be completed, the verb to be comes immediately after the plural masculine noun engineers (engineers), which corresponds to the third person plural pronoun: they (they).

From the available options, the letters a) was being, B) is, d) was and is) has been are third person singular inflections.

The only alternative that is a third person plural inflection is the letter c) will be.

See how the complete sentence looks like:

Engineers will be needed to build robots that do everything from assembling machinery to caring for aging parents.

(will be needed engineers to build robots that do everything from assembling machines to caring for aging parents.)

Read too:

  • Verbal Tenses in English
  • Irregular Verbs in English
  • Past Participate
  • Adverbs of frequency
  • there is there are
  • verb can
  • Phrasal verbs
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