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Grammar Books

The Verb To Be

Probably the best known verb in the world: "To be or not to be..."

Forms of To Be
  Present

Past

Perfect
Form
Continuous
Form
I
am
was
have / had been
am / was being
he / she / it
is
was
has / had been
is / was being
you / we / they
are
were
have / had been
are / were being

Normally we use the verb to be to show the status or characteristics of something or someone (as a stative verb). It says what I am, what you are or what something is.

Present Simple (stative)
I am a teacher. You are a student. He /She is a student. It is a car. We are all teachers. They are students.
Past Simple (stative)
I was a student. You were a student. He /She was a student. It was a nice day yesterday. We were all students once. They were students.
Future Simple (stative)
I will be a student. You will be a teacher. He / She will be a teacher. It will be nice later. We will be teachers. They will be students.

When used with the present participle of other verbs it describes actions that are or were still continuing - auxiliary verb be [+ ing form of the main verb].

Present Continuous (active)
I am being silly. You are being silly. He /She is being silly. It is being silly. We are being silly. They are being silly.
Past Continuous (active)
I was being silly. You were being silly. He /She was being silly. It was being silly. We were being silly. They were being silly.

Am/Is/Are

The verb to be is used to create simple yes/no questions by simply inverting the order of subject and the “To be” verb.

For example:-

I am a teacher. (Statement)
Am I a teacher? (Question)

Question Positive Statement Negative Statement (possible short forms)
Singular    
Am I ...? I am ... (I'm ...) I am not ... (I'm not ...)
Is he / she / it ...? He / She / It is ...(He's/She's/It's ...) He / She / It is not (He / She / It isn't... // He's / She's / It's not ...)
Are you ...? You are ...(You're...) You are not (You're not ...// You aren't...)
Am I being ...? I am being ... I am not being ... (I'm not being...)
Is he / she / it being...? He / She / It is being ... (He's/She's/It's being ...) He / She / It is not being ... (He / She / It isn't being...// He/she/it's not being...)
Are you being ...? You are being ... (You're being ...) You are not being ... (You're not being ... // You aren't being...)
Was I ...? I was ... I was not. ..
Was he / she / it ...? He / She / It was ... He / She / It was not ... (He / She / It wasn't)
Were you ...? You were ... You were not ... (You weren't ...)
Was I being ...? I was being ... I was not being (I wasn't being...)
Was he / she / it being...? He / She / It was being ... He / She / It was not being ... (He / She / It wasn't being... )
Were you being ...? You were being ... You were not being ... (You weren't being ...)
Will I be ...? I will be ... (I'll be ...) I will not be ... (I'll not be ...)
Will he / she / it be ...? He / She / It will be ...(He'll / She'll / It'll be ...) He / She / It will not be (He / She / It won't be ... // He'll not be / She'll not be / It'll not be ...)
Will you be ...? You will be ...(You'll be ...) You will not be (You won't be ... // You'll not be ...)
Plural    
Are we / you / they? We / You / They are (We're / You're / They're) We / You /They are not (We're / You're / They're not // We / You / They aren't)
Are we / you / they being ...? We / You / They are being ... (We're / You're / They're) We / You /They are not being (We're / You're / They're not being // We / You / They aren't being)
Were we / you / they ...? We / You / They were ... We / You / They were not ... (We / You / They weren't ...)
Were we / you / they being ...? We / You / They were being ... We / You / They were not being ... (We / You / They weren't being ...)
Will we / you / they be ...? We / You / They will be ...(We'll / You'll They'll be ...) We / You / They will not be (We / You / They won't be ... // We'll / You'll They'll not be ...)

Examples

Am/Are Is
Question - ? "Am I disturbing you?" "Is this your coat"
Positive Answer - Yes "Yes you are." "Yes it is"
Negative Answer - No "No you're not." "No it isn't"
Was / Were Was
Question - ? "Was I disturbing you?" "Was that your old house?"
Positive Answer - Yes "Yes you were ." "Yes it was "
Negative Answer - No "No you weren't." "No it wasn't."

!Note - The verb to be is also used when forming the passive voice.

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