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The Verb To Be

The verb to be is a key verb in English, playing a major part in many types of constructions It has many usages and meanings, both as a main verb and as an auxiliary verb. It also acts differently in negative sentences and questions. To know more, read these sections of our review on the verb to be in English.
1. Forms The verb to be has the most forms in English (8 forms): Base form be Present Participle being Past Participle been

He was with his sister in Madrid while we were at home. [Location] This dress is size 9. Her last apartment was very small. [Size] The sky is blue, and so is my favorite color. [Color] We are from Italy. [Origin] How are you today ? I m fine, thanks. [Mood] My new teacher is very nice. The results of our research are very promising. [copula]

3. Uses As an auxiliary verb, to be is used to create progressive verb forms and passive constructions. The general formula for progressive forms is: Auxiliary verb + Main verb Be + Present Participle (Ving)

Present Simple Tense Past Simple Tense I am He, She, It is We, You, They are I, He, She, It was We, You, They were

2. Meaning
As a main verb in a sentence, to be is a stative verb serving as a copula (a verb linking the subject with its complement). As every sentence in English must have a verb, to be is used in many cases where there is no action described in the sentence. It sometimes explains the existence of the noun. I am Dan Smith. She is a doctor. We are from Spain. [Existence, identity]

Donna is reading her new book. [ is reading is in the Present Progressive Tense] Her Parents have been working in book publishing for years. [ have been publishing is in the Present Progressive Tense] Ron may be traveling in India next month. [ may be traveling is a modal progressive form]

*NOTE: You've probably seen a lot of verbs with "ING" at the end of them, like "sleeping," "talking," or "walking." There are two basic reasons to add "ING" to the end of a verb: to form one of the continuous tenses, or to make a gerund. We use the progressive tenses to talk about on-going actions. There are progressive tenses for the past, present, and future. For example, the present progressive looks like this, "I am walking to work right now." Progressive tenses are formed with be + main verb + ing, as in, "Joe stopped by while I was watching a movie." "ING" verbs can also be gerunds, which act like nouns in a sentence. In the sentence, "I do the cleaning and my wife does the cooking," for example, both cleaning and cooking aregerunds. Gerunds often follow other verbs, as in, "I cant stop thinking about you," or, "I love skating."
Rule #1: After a modal (can, will, may, might) the next verb is in the simple form. Rule #2: After the helping verb "do", the next verb is the base form (to emphasize a main verb). Rule #3: After have/has/had, the next verb is in the past participle. Rule #4: After "be" in any form in the active voice, the next verb is the present participle ( -ing form). Rule #5: In the passive voice, after "be" the next verb is the past participle. Rule #6: After "to" following a verb, the next verb is in the simple form Rule #7: Some verbs (called state-of-being verbs) cannot be used in the progressive, "-ing," form. Examples of state-of-being verbs:appear, desire, like, prefer, appreciate, dislike, love, recognize, believe, doubt, mean, seem, belong, hate, need, suppose, cost, know, own, want, weigh Incorrect: I am loving you. Revised: I love you. Incorrect: He is weighing 200 pounds. Revised: He weighs 200 pounds.