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Be as an ordinary verb

Be is used both as a principal verb and as an auxiliary verb.

Be as a principal verb

Linking verb

Be and its forms (is, am, are, was and were) are usually used to link the subject with a following word.

  • Alice is an advocate.
  • Mary is very intelligent.
  • You are wonderful.
  • He was angry.
To express a command or request

Be can be used to express a command or request.

  • Be quite.
  • Don't be silly.
  • Be off.
  • Be a good girl.
Special uses of Be

Be is used in a number of expressions about physical feelings (hunger, thirst etc.) and physical conditions (age, size, colour etc.).

  • I am Manju.
  • She is 25.
  • He is an architect.
  • We are happy.
  • It is cold today.
  • I am thirsty.
  • Are you hungry?
  • It is very cold.
  • He is tall.
  • She is fair.

Be as an auxiliary verb

With the Present Participles

Be is used with the present participles of verbs to make the present and past progressive tenses.

  • I am writing. (Present Progressive)
  • She was standing at the gate. (Past Progressive)
  • She is knitting a sweater. (Present Progressive)
  • You were sleeping. (Past progressive)
With the Past Participles of Transitive verbs

Be can combine with the past participles of transitive verbs to form the passive voice.

  • I was shocked.
  • He was treated badly.
  • You are rewarded for your service.
  • They are sold cheap.


Be + infinitive

Be can be followed by a to-infinitive. This structure is used to talk about plans and arrangements.

  • I am to meet him tomorrow.
  • He is to arrive soon.
  • They are to get married next month.

Be + infinitive can also be used to give commands or orders.

  • You are to finish your homework before you go to bed.
  • You are to sit in that corner and keep quiet.
  • You are not to misbehave with the servants.
Be + perfect infinitive

A perfect infinitive (to have + past participle) can be used after be to show that a planned event did not happen.

  • They were to have been married last month, but had to postpone the marriage.
Be + passive infinitive

Be+ passive infinitive (to be + past participle) is often used in notices and instructions.

  • This medicine is to be taken twice daily.
  • The sticker on this bottle is not to be removed.
  • This book is not to be resold.
Category: Primary auxiliary verbs. Modal auxiliary verbs | Added by: Teacher_Koce (2015-11-29)
Views: 353 | Tags: auxiliary verb, Be, Ordinary
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