Last Updated : 23 Aug 2015

TO BE VERBS

Definition:
Verbs like am, is, are, was, were do not show action; they are verbs of being. They tell us about a state of being or existence. They don’t give any meaning but they are used to describe a subject. The be verbs are followed by a noun or an adjective or an adverb.

The most frequently used linking verb is be, whose forms include the following

THE VERB ‘BE’

e.g.

PersonSubjectPresent TensePast Tense
First - SingularIamwas
First - Pluralwearewere
Second - Singularyouarewere
Second - Pluralyouarewere
Third - Singularhe, she, itiswas
Third - Pluraltheyarewere

e.g.

I am a DoctorWe were playing
He was a rich manThey are running

the verb be doesn’t contain the word be at all. It is made up of the verbs am, is, are, was, and were, and these are be-ing verbs

e.g.

She be sleepingShe is sleeping

In speech and informal writing the short forms of ‘be» are used. Here is a list of the short forms of ‘be’:

 

e.g.

Full FormShort Form
I am I’m
We are We’re
You are You’re
He is He’s
She is She’s
It is It’s
They are They’re
That is That’s
There is There’s

What is the meaning of verb ‘be’?

Now look at the meaning of the ‘be’.

e.g.

I am a sales representativeYou are a Software Engineer
Sugar is sweet.Ten minus two is eight.

There is no special meaning for the verb ‘be’. It just links the subject and the subject complement. That is why it is called a copula or linking-verb .

The verb ‘be’ is hardly ever used by itself; it requires a complement to complete the meaning. That is why it is also called a verb of incomplete predication (i.e., the predication is not complete without a complement).

Negative Sentences with ‘be’

Look at the following pairs of sentences:

e.g.

AffirmativeNegative
Mr.Boon is an electrician.He is not an electrician
I am a painter.I’m not a painter
He is in the room.He is not in the room

Negative sentences with a form of ‘be’ are formed by adding ‘not’ to the form of ‘be’

 

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