To be Verb

by in Verbs 

The Verb to be

To be is the most common verbs in the English language. The verb to be is an irregular verb, in fact the most irregular verb in the English language. To be changes depending on how to be agrees with the subject. It will change depending on whether it is used for the first, second, or third person. It will also change whether it is used for the past, present or future. It will also change whether it is used for singular nouns or plural nouns. The to be verb takes the forms of;

  • Am
  • Is
  • Be
  • Been
  • being
  • Are
  • Was
  • Were

The “to be” verb is used to create the continuous and the perfect continuous forms.

  • He is eating
  • They are studying
  • He was eating
  • They were studying
  • He will be eating
  • They will be studying
  • He has been eating
  • They have been studying
  • He had been eating
  • They had been studying
  • He will have been eating
  • They will have been studying

It is also used to create a passive voice;

  • The mat was sat on by the cat.


Present Tense Past Tense Perfect Form (past participle) Progressive Form (present participle)
I am was have been I am being
You/we/they are were Were been Are being
He/She/It is was Was been Is being
Singular Noun Is Was Was been Is being
Plural nouns Are Were Were been Are being


Knowing that the verbto be” changes in accordance to the subject and tense, it important to know the verb “to be” functions in various ways;

  • as a Main Verb
  • as an Auxiliary Verb
  • as a Linking Verb

To be as a main verb

As a main verb “to be” is often used in brief short sentences;

  • I am here
  • She is a nurse
  • They are in the shop

To be as an auxiliary verb

The verb “to have” is used as an auxiliary verb to help other verbs create the tenses or an auxiliary to a gerund or participle.

  • He is playing the piano
  • She will be arriving this afternoon
  • He was eating dinner

To be as a linking verb

“To be” can also acts as a linking verb. It joins the subject with an adjective or a phrasal noun that renames or defines the subject. As a linking verb, to be does not create an action.

  • The holiday to Thailand was fantastic
  • My wife is the head of nursing
  • The board members of the school were unfamiliar with modern teaching methods.