To Be - Am Is Are

Uses of the Verb To Have

The verb to be, like the verb to have, is one of the key verbs in English. It is used as a copular verb to link subjects to adjectives, as a helping or auxiliary verb in continuous tenses, and is used as the auxiliary verb in all passive tenses. Here are clear explanations of the various uses of the verb to be.

Am Is Are

Three of the most common forms of the verb to is are am, is and are. These are the conjugated forms of the verb to be in the present.

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

Am, is and are are sometimes confused, but remember that am is only used with the subject I, all other subjects take is or are.

To Be - Copular Verb

When to be is used as the main verb it is used to connect the subject to a quality or a description. These descriptions are often adjectives or adjectivial and noun phrases. This sounds much more difficult than it is, here are some examples to make things simple.

She is a kind person.
Peter is handsome.
I am sometimes late for work.

Remember that am, is and are are used in the present tense. Was and were are used for the past.

To be - Auxliary Verb in Continuous Tenses

To be is used as the auxiliary verb in all continuous tenses. In other words, the verb to be is conjugated and followed by the present participle (ing) form. Past, present and future continuous forms are recognized the conjugation of the verb to be.

Here are two forms of the continuous as examples. Remember that the continuous forms express what is hapenning at a specific moment in time.

Present Continuous

I am doing
You are doing
He is doing
She is doing
It is doing
We are doing
You are doing
They are doing

Example sentences:

He's working at the moment.

Peter and Jane are taking a walk.
I'm working at the computer.

Past Continuous

I was doing
You were doing
He was doing
She was doing
It was doing
We were doing
You were doing
They were doing

Example sentences:

Susan was watching TV when he called.
They were playing Tennis when it started to rain.
I was eating lunch at 12 noon.

Present Perfect Continuous

I have been doing
You have been doing
He has been doing
She has been doing
It has been doing
We have been doing
You have been doing
They have been doing

Example sentences:

Jake has been working since two p.m.
We have been playing golf since early this morning.
Mary has been eating too much lately.

To be - Auxliary Verb in the Passive Form

To be is used as the auxiliary verb for all passive forms. Passive forms are used to express what is done to someone, active forms are used to express who does what. Here is an example of an active sentence put into the passive voice for a number of tenses. Note how the verb to be changes in each tense.

Present: Peter builds houses. -> Houses are built by Peter.
Present continuous: Tom is washing the car. -> The car is being washed.
Past: Someone made that car. -> That car was made in 2004.
Past continuous: Someone was playing the piano when I arrived. -> The piano was being played when I arrived.
Future: Someone will prepare lunch. -> Lunch will be prepared.
Future: Someone is going to pick me up at the airport. -> I will be picked up at the airport when I arrive.
Future perfect: Someone will have finished the report by five this evening. -> The report will have been finished by five this evening.
Present perfect: Mary wrote the report. -> The report was written by Mary.

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Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "To Be - Am Is Are." ThoughtCo, Oct. 4, 2011, Beare, Kenneth. (2011, October 4). To Be - Am Is Are. Retrieved from Beare, Kenneth. "To Be - Am Is Are." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 19, 2018).