present first singularam/ˈæm, əm/second singularare/ˈɑɚ, ɚ/third singularis/ˈɪz, əz/pluralarepast tense for first and third singularwas/ˈwəz/second singularwere/ˈwɚ/pluralwerepast participlebeen/ˈbɪn/British/ˈbiːn/present participlebeing/ˈbiːjɪŋ/ present first singularam/ˈæm, əm/second singularare/ˈɑɚ, ɚ/third singularis/ˈɪz, əz/pluralarepast tense for first and third singularwas/ˈwəz/second singularwere/ˈwɚ/pluralwerepast participlebeen/ˈbɪn/British/ˈbiːn/present participlebeing/ˈbiːjɪŋ/
Learner's definition of BE
1 a — used to indicate the identity of a person or thing
b — used to describe the qualities of a person or thing
Today is Wednesday.
John is my brother.
The first person I met was Susan. = Susan was the first person I met.
Who are you?
“There's someone at the door.” “Who is it?” “It's David.”
Your responsibility is to keep this area clean. = Keeping this area clean is your responsibility.
c — used to indicate the condition of a person or thing
My hands are cold.
He is 35 years old and six feet tall.
The leaves are green, and so is the grass.
The noise was very loud.
The way he behaves is foolish.
How foolish he is!
“(Are) You hungry?” “Yes, I am.”
The book is about English grammar.
These people are with me.
The letter is for you.
They asked the students not to be late. = They asked that the students not be late.
Treat people with respect, whether they are rich or poor. = (formal) Treat people with respect, whether they be rich or poor. = (formal) Treat people with respect, be they rich or poor.
Our neighbors are being unusually friendly lately.
Don't be such a fool! [=don't act in such a foolish way]
To be perfectly/quite honest/frank (with you), I didn't like the movie. [=I am speaking honestly/frankly when I say that I didn't like the movie]
The book is mine.
I'd do it if I were you. [=I think you should do it]
2 [linking verb] — used to indicate the group, class, category, etc., that a person or thing belongs to
I'm a doctor and my sister is a lawyer.
That fish is a trout.
The trout is a (kind of) fish.
Apes are mammals.
She's a hard worker. [=she works hard]
What a fool he is! [=he is a fool]
Being an artist herself [=because she is an artist herself], she tends to look at other people's paintings very critically.
3 [linking verb] — used to indicate the place, situation, or position of a person or thing
The book is on the table.
“Where's John?” “He's in the living room.”
The house is past the bridge.
It was great being here. = It was great to be here.
I must be on my way. [=I must go]
Here's the book. = Here it is.
4 a — used in phrases with there to describe a situation, occurrence, etc.
b — used in phrases with it to indicate a time or place or to describe a current, past, or future condition
There is a book on the table. [=a book is on the table]
There are concerts several times a week. [=concerts are held several times a week]
There will be concerts next week.
“There's someone at the door.” “Who is it?” “It's John.”
It's 12 o'clock. [=the time is 12 o'clock]
It's Wednesday today. [=today is Wednesday]
It was noon when we arrived. [=we arrived at noon]
It was here that I lost my way. [=I lost my way here]
It's hot out!
It's odd that he didn't see us. [=the fact that he didn't see us was odd]
5 [linking verb] — used to say how much something costs 6 [linking verb] — used to say that one amount or number is the same as another 7 [no object] : to happen or take place
The concert was last night.
The concert is [=will be] tomorrow night. [=the concert will take place tomorrow night]
“When was the Battle of Waterloo?” “(It was) In 1815.”
“When is Christmas?” “It's on a Wednesday this year.”
8 [no object] : to come or go — used in perfect tenses
◊ People who have been there, done that are bored about the idea of going somewhere or doing something because they have already done it before. This is an informal phrase that is often used in a joking way.
I suggested to my cousin that she go to Florida for her vacation, but she said, “Been there, done that.”
She has already been [=come] and gone.
Have you ever been [=gone] to Rome?
I haven't been there for several years.
I've been waiting for you for half an hour. Where have you been? [=where were you?; why weren't you here?]
9 [no object], somewhat formal : to exist or live
I think, therefore I am. [=exist]
Once upon a time there was [=lived] a knight.
There once was a man who dwelt alone in a small village.
all the things that are [=exist]
, or not to be
: that is the question.”
Shakespeare, Hamlet (1600)
10 [auxiliary verb] — used with the past participle of a verb to form passive constructions
The money was found by a child.
They were [=got] married by a priest.
Don't be fooled by what he says.
Please be seated. [=please sit down]
The election was expected to produce a very close result.
God be praised! [=let God be praised]
I was surprised by her rudeness.
11 a — used with the present participle of a verb to express continuous action b — used with the present participle of a verb to express future or later action
12 a — used with to + verb to say what will happen or was going to happen in the future
b — used with to + verb to say what should happen or be done
The best is yet/still to come. [=the best has not yet happened]
No one realized that she was one day to become famous. [=that she would become famous one day]
She was not/never to see him again. [=she would never see him again]
There are to be two concerts next week. [=there will be two concerts next week]
c — used in negative statements with to + verb to say what is or was possible
People like that are to be pitied, not hated. [=people like that should be pitied]
You are not (allowed) to smoke in here!
What am I to do? [=what should I do?]
d — used with to + verb to say that one thing must happen or be true so that another thing can happen or be true
The truth of their argument was not to be denied. [=could not be denied]
You're not to blame: you weren't to know he'd be offended. [=you could not have known that he would be offended]
The book was nowhere to be found. [=could not be found]
13 [auxiliary verb] — used like have with the past participle of some verbs to form perfect tenses — now often considered archaic
: to behave in a normal or natural way
You're not yourself today. What's the matter?
I'll be myself again once I've had something to eat.
“How can I impress her?” “Just be yourself!”
leave (someone or something) be
let (someone or something) be