LESSON ONE: The verb "be"

The verb "be" is the most important verb to learn in the English language. Click here for Study Guide #1

If you don't learn how to use this verb properly, your English will always sound weird.

There are a few important things to keep in mind about the verb "be."

1. The verb "be" is irregular, so it can take many different forms: am, is, are, was, were, been, being, etc.

be - present tense: am, is, are

    singular plural
    I am We are
    You are You are
    He is  
    She is They are
    It is  






       be - past tense: was, were

    singular plural
    I was We were
    You were You were
    He was  
    She was They were
    It was  






2. The verb "be" is often used in a contraction.  What's a contraction? Here are some examples:

  • They're in the store. (they + are = they're)

  • She's on the phone. (she + is = she's)

  • It's cold outside today. (it + is = it's)

  • I'm tired. (I + am = I'm)



3. To make the verb "be" negative, add "not."

  • She is not at home. / She isn't at home.

  • The eggs are not in the frig. / The eggs aren't in the frig.

  • The oven is not hot. / The oven isn't hot.


Note: It takes some students years of practice with the verb "be" before they master it. That's why it's so important to focus on "be" early when studying English. You should also realize that many Americans are either lazy, indifferent, or defiant when it comes to their English grammar and verb choices. Consider the following examples of this:

  • There's some good deals at that store. It's easier to say "there's" compared to "there are," so regardless of subject-verb agreement, some Americans will say "there's" for just about anything.

  • She ain't here. The word "ain't" is slang. It can be used with any pronoun or noun. "Ain't" is a contraction of the verb "be" and the negative, "not." The word "ain't" is considered poor English.

  • They was here. You was wrong. We is....  Some Americans make big grammatical errors, so don't be surprised when you hear this. The reasons for this are very complex, but it can be attributed to a lack of education, a lack of interest in good grammar, and in some cases it's intentional.


Teacher Paul's advice: Don't make mistakes with the verb "be." Work hard at understanding every different way in which "be" is used. This understanding will improve your English dramatically.


Click here to move forward to Lesson Two.





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