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Hi, everybody. My name is Alisha.
Today, I'm going to be talking about the verb, “to be.”
So, in this lesson I'm going to talk about the use of the word, “to be,” and I'm
going to introduce a few example sentences, as well as, give some explanations about some
questions that you guys have had about the different uses of the verb, “to be,” specifically
different conjugations of the verb, “to be.”
So, let's get started.
The first point I want to mention about the verb, “to be,” is that “be” expresses
a state or a condition.
This is some point about the way a person is or a characteristic, a feature of a person,
an object, a situation.
So, we use “be” to talk about existence.
Existence is like the base level of the verb, the base meaning of the verb.
Maybe you've heard the very famous Shakespeare expression, the expression from the Shakespeare
play “Hamlet,” “To be or not to be.”
This is a very famous expression which uses the verb, “to be.”
But here, this famous speech comes from the characters kind of internal monologue or the
character's thoughts about whether “to be,” “to be alive,” “to exist,” or, “not
to be,” “to not exist,” “to be dead.”
In this case, yes, we are using the verb or the verb is used to mean existence, to mean
alive or not alive.
However, in modern English today, we use the verb, “to be,” in many, many cases.
Not referring to being alive or not alive but we use it as a linking verb.
So, “to be,” and the negative form is used to connect the subject to its other information.
This is the purpose of a linking verb.
We have a subject and some other information about the subject.
We use the verb, “to be,” to link those two things together.
I've prepared a lot of examples and some conjugation review points that I hope can help show some
of these--the ways we can use the verb, “to be,” as in modern American English.
Let's take a look.
First, at the present tense.
So, please remember that depending on the subject of the sentence, the conjugation of
the verb, “to be,” is going to change.
So, if the subject of the present sentence is “I,” we’ll use “am.”
If the subject is “he,” “she,” or “it,” we’ll use “is.”
If the subject is “you,” “we,” or “they,” we use “are.”
So, please keep these in mind.
Of course, the negative form, we add “not,” after this.
So, “I am not,” “he is not,” “you are not,” for example.
Let's look at a few simple examples here.
The subject, “he,” for, “he,” I apply “is,” the conjugation “is.”
“He is my brother.”
So, here is my subject, “He,” extra information, “my brother,” and, “is,” this is my
It connects the information together.
Another example, “The neighbors are noisy.”
Please be careful.
I've noticed that many people forget that they're actually using a plural when they
talk about “neighbors” or “parents,” for example.
This little “S” here, the “neighbors,” the people who live next to me, this is a
So, we should apply the same rule we use for “they.”
“They are,” in this case.
“The neighbors are noisy.”
Here is another example, “the computers,” not people here but multiple objects, “the
computers,” that “S” sound, it marks the plural form.
So, we have to use the same conjugation rules, “the computers,” “they are.”
Essentially, “They are all broken,” here.
One more, “You are not my friend.”
So, here, we have the subject, “You,” and the negative, “not my friend.”
“You are not my friend.”
So, in each of these, we are connecting the subject with some other information using
a conjugated form of the verb, “be.”
I also want to mention the infinitive form, this “to” plus “be.”
I talked about, “to be,” a little bit here.
“To be,” meaning existence.
We can use “to be” in modern English, as well, meaning there's no change to the
But, we use it in a few situations referring to existence, referring to a situation.
So, let's take a look at a few examples.
So, here, I have, “I want her to be my boss.”
“I want her to be my boss,” meaning she is not my boss now but in the future, I want
her to be.
I want her to be in the state of being my boss.
I want her to become my boss.
However, we don't say “become,” “I want her to be my boss.”
So, this is maybe a desire I want for a future situation where a person, “her,” in this
case, is desired “to be,” to exist in a condition as this person's boss.
Okay, let's try another example.
This is a very, very common example.
“Please tell him to be on time.”
“To be” is used here before the expression, “on time.”
So, “on time” means the correct time.
For example, if the meeting begins at 1 o'clock, he needs “to be” in the meeting room at
So, “to be,” in this case, means be in a condition, be in the state of on time, at
the correct time.
This is a very common one.
“Tell him to be on time.”
“Please be on time,” meaning you, in your condition, your status in the day, should
be on time.
So, this is a great one to remember.
Here's one more example, again, about time.
It's very commonly used for time, for schedules.
“Didn't they tell you to be here at 8 o'clock?”
So, again, “to be,” meaning exists here, to bring yourself here.
“You need to exist here at 8 o'clock.
Didn't they tell you that?”
So, again, “to be,” refers to your body, your person here, existing.
So, “I need to be here to make these videos,” or “I need to be in the studio to do a live
stream every week,” “I need to be somewhere.”
So, we use “be,” to talk about our body's position or our body's location where we exist.
We can use “to be,” with that.
Okay, so I've already started talking about a few different prepositions, actually.
I mentioned, “I need to be at the studio,” or “I need to be in the office,” for example.
There are a few common prepositions that we can use with the verb, “to be.”
Because “to be,” refers to our existence, refers to our location, for example.
We can use it with a few prepositions like, “in” or “at.”
So, I can say, “I need to be in the office,” “I need to be at the office.”
Both are okay to use with the verb, “to be,” because they talk about or they help
us express our existence, our condition, where we are located.
We can also use “with,” to talk about people.
Like, “I want to be with my family this weekend,” or “I want to be with my husband
or my wife later,” or “I want to be with my friends every day,” for example.
So, we can use “with,” along with the verb, “to be.”
So, these are a couple of common prepositions you'll see with the verb, “to be,” and
its various forms.
Okay, so, let's continue on to a couple different grammar points.
Let's talk now about the past tense.
We can use “to be,” in past tense.
Just remember, again, the verb does conjugate here.
It's, “I was,” if the subject of the sentence is, “I.”
“He,” “she,” and “it,” “was.”
“He was,” “she was,” “it was.”
And, with “you,” “we,” and “they,” we use “were.”
“You were, “they were,” “We were.”
Here, I've used “it,” as an, “I was late to work,” past tense.
“The neighbors were noisy.”
So, again, as I talked about with the present tense example, “neighbors” is plural,
so the rule for “they” applies here.
“They were noisy.”
Same thing here, I used the same sentence, just in past tense.
“The computers were all broken.”
One more, “She wasn't very friendly.”
So, a negative form.
And, please, remember, that you can use the contracted form instead of “was not,”
we can use “wasn't.”
It sounds a lot more natural.
“She wasn't very friendly.”
So, please, keep in mind the past tense forms as well, the past tense form and the negative
Let's continue on to a couple different points.
I want to talk about the continuous or the progressive form.
A couple patterns some of you have sent in questions about the use of the word, “being,”
in sentences like these.
Like, what's the difference between including “being” and know “being” in an example
So, let's take a look in a couple of examples.
We use “being,” in this progressive form to express a temporary state.
So, if you've watched any videos about the continuous form or the progressive form, you
know we you use it, sometimes, to talk about a temporary state, something that's not always
true, but for now, it is true.
The same rule applies to “being.”
So, if we can imagine the blue line here is a present tense statement.
Present tense, remember, is something that's always true, it's a general fact.
The red line here is a temporary situation.
So, here, I have past, present, now and the future.
So, let's look at these two example sentences.
“My brother is annoying.”
My brother is not really annoying.
“My brother is annoying,” is a present tense sentence.
So, this is a general fact, for an example.
A general fact, always true.
“My brother is annoying,” I have an adjective here, “My brother is annoying.”
However, in this sentence, “My brother is being annoying right now.”
“My brother is being annoying,” means, in this point in time only, for this short
period of time only, right now, my brother is “being,” he's in the condition, his
status, his existence is annoying right now.
If I said, “My brother is annoying right now.”
But, “being annoying,” it sounds a bit more natural to a native speaker.
“My brother is being annoying right now.”
Let's look at one more example, “My computer is not cooperative.”
I've used the negative, “not cooperative.”
So, this is a little bit of a funny sentence.
It suggests, maybe my computer can think for itself.
So, “cooperative,” meaning my computer is not working very well, in other words.
But, here, I've used the adjective.
“My computer is not cooperative.”
So, maybe, I have an old computer.
So, “every day,” in this sentence, in a present tense sentence, “My computer is
not cooperative,” it doesn't work very well.
However, if I want to use “being” here, I can say, “My computer wasn't,” in past
tense maybe, “My computer wasn't being cooperative today.”
So, in this sentence, we see today only.
“My computer was not being,” my computer was not functioning, my computer was not existing
in a cooperative state, its condition was not cooperative for me in that day.
So, here, I've used “being.”
“My computer wasn't cooperative today,” is okay, as well.
But, we can use “being,” it sounds--it kind of emphasizes the existence, it emphasizes
that temporary condition here.
So, this sounds really nice, “My computer wasn't being cooperative today.”
Try to use this if you like.
So, again, we use this for a temporary situation, keep that in mind, “being blah, blah, blah,”
“being” before your adjective, in this case.
So, that's one point I wanted to mention.
Let's move on to a couple more may be difficult or advanced points I wanted to share and I
want to introduce a few examples here, too.
First, present perfect tense.
We've talked about the present perfect tense in some other videos before but let's review.
When your subject is “I,” we use “have been.”
When the subject is “he,” “she,” or “it.”
It’s “has been.”
“He has been,” “she has been,” “it has been.”
When we use “you,” “we,” and “they,” it’s “have been.”
“You have been,” “they have been,” “we have been.”
So, we can use this as we've looked at in the past, “I have been studying,” here's
our present perfect form, the past participle form, “been.”
“I have been,” “she has been working,” “they have been living.”
And then, some questions, “Have we been sleeping?” or “Where have you been living?”
Here, you'll see, we use “been,” the past participle form of the verb here in present
So, maybe many of you are familiar, maybe this kind of pattern is okay for you.
But, let's kind of look at a few examples that are a bit more difficult or a bit more
Like, the past perfect tense.
So, here, in past perfect tense, we need to change from “have,” as we've done with
present perfect, to “had,” the past tense.
So, here, all of these are going to be the same verb.
“I had been,” “he had been,” “you had been.”
We keep the verb, “be,” with “been here.”
But, we can actually change all of these sentences I just talked about in past perfect, or sorry,
present perfect to the past perfect tense just by changing the verb, “have,” here.
So, for example, “I had been studying,” “She had been working,” “They had been
living,” for example.
We can make past perfect sentences just by changing the verb here.
So, please keep this in mind, the verb, “to be,” does not change in this case.
But, we can make some more complex sentences in this case, a past perfect sentence, quite
easily, actually, with no change to the “be,” verb.
There's one more situation or one more kind of sentence I want to mention today.
And, that sentences that use “if” clauses.
so, if something, then something else is.
“If-then,” type statements.
So, here's one example.
“If more people had come, it would have been a better party.”
“It would have been,” so, here, we see, there's an “if” statement that introduces
So, here's my “if” clause, “If more people had come, it would have been a better
So, here, I'm talking about a past situation.
So, at the party, maybe not a lot of people came to the party.
But, if more people had come, in the past, it would have been a better party.
So, I want to introduce this because a lot of people have no problem with the “if”
Like, “if more people had come,” or “if more people had been at the party.”
However, many people forget to conjugate the verb in the main clause, “it would have
So, please, don't forget this part, “it would have been.”
Don't forget your “would,” either here.
Let's look at one more.
“If you had been here earlier,” so, here, we see the verb, “to be,” is in our “if”
“If you had been here earlier, you would have heard my good news,” in this case.
So, here, the “to be” verb is in the “if” clause, in that “if” clause at the beginning
of the sentence.
“If you had been here,” if your body had existed in this place earlier, you would have
heard my good news.
So, here, we can see it in the “if” clause of the sentence.
This is a very useful one.
“If you had been here earlier,” you can use this in a surprising number of situations,
Let's look at one more.
“If we hadn't been at the beach today,” so, here, I have a negative in the “if”
So, “hadn't been,” “If we hadn't been at the beach today, we wouldn't have seen
whales,” for example.
So, here, I've made a kind of complex sentence with a negative.
“If we hadn't been at the beach,” if our bodies had not been at the beach, if we had
not existed at the beach today, “we would not have seen whales,” it would not have
been possible to see whales.
So, you can use this in the positive and the negative to make some very complex sentences
just about existence, about where you or where an object is, where your body is.
I know that “to be” can be a difficult verb to use.
But, think about the various ways we've talked about in this lesson to use the verb, “to
be,” and try to make some interesting sentences.
So, there are a lot of different ways to use this verb.
But, keep in mind, it's so useful as a linking verb.
So, we're connecting a subject to some key information about the subject and we're talking
about our existence with this verb.
So, give it a try.
If you have any questions or if you want to try just an example sentence, leave it in
the comment and we can check it out.
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