be  ( am 1st person singular present) ( are 2nd and 3rd person singular present and plural present) ( is 3rd person singular present) ( being present participle) ( was 1st and 3rd person singular past) ( were 2nd person singular past and plural past) ( been past participle ) (OTHER VERB USES)
In spoken English, forms of be are often shortened, for example `I am' is shortened to `I'm' and `was not' is shortened to `wasn't'.
1 v-link You use be to introduce more information about the subject, such as its identity, nature, qualities, or position.
She's my mother... V n
He is a very attractive man... V n
My grandfather was a butcher... V n
The fact that you were willing to pay in the end is all that matters... V n
The sky was black... V adj
It is 1,267 feet high... V adj
Cheney was in Madrid... V prep/adv
His house is next door... V prep/adv
`Is it safe?'<emdash>`Well of course it is.'... V
He's still alive isn't he? V
2 v-link You use be, with `it' as the subject, in clauses where you are describing something or giving your judgment of a situation.
It was too chilly for swimming... it V adj
Sometimes it is necessary to say no... it V adj to-inf
It is likely that investors will face losses... it V adj that
It's nice having friends to chat to... it V adj -ing
It's a good thing I brought lots of handkerchiefs... it V n that
It's no good just having meetings... it V n -ing
It's a good idea to avoid refined food... it V n to-inf
It's up to us to prove it. it V prep to-inf
3 v-link You use be with the impersonal pronoun `there' in expressions like there is and there are to say that something exists or happens.
Clearly there is a problem here... there V n
There are very few cars on this street... there V n
There was nothing new in the letter... there V n
4 v-link You use be as a link between a subject and a clause and in certain other clause structures, as shown below.
It was me she didn't like, not what I represented... V n
What the media should not do is to exploit people's natural fears... V to-inf
Our greatest problem is convincing them... V -ing
The question was whether protection could be improved... V wh
All she knew was that I'd had a broken marriage... V that
Local residents said it was as if there had been a nuclear explosion. V as if
5 v-link You use be in expressions like the thing is and the point is to introduce a clause in which you make a statement or give your opinion.
SPOKEN The fact is, the players gave everything they had... V cl
The plan is good; the problem is it doesn't go far enough. V cl
6 v-link You use be in expressions like to be fair, to be honest, or to be serious to introduce an additional statement or opinion, and to indicate that you are trying to be fair, honest, or serious.
She's always noticed. But then, to be honest, Ghislaine likes being noticed... V adj
It enabled students to devote more time to their studies, or to be more accurate, more time to relaxation. V adj
7 v-link The form `be' is used occasionally instead of the normal forms of the present tense, especially after `whether'.
FORMAL The chemical agent, whether it be mustard gas or nerve gas, can be absorbed by the skin. be n
8 verb If something is, it exists.
mainly FORMAL or LITERARY
9 v-link To be yourself means to behave in the way that is right and natural for you and your personality.
She'd learnt to be herself and to stand up for her convictions. V pron-refl
10 If you talk about what would happen if it wasn't for someone or something, you mean that they are the only thing that is preventing it from happening.
if it wasn't for phrase V inflects, PHR n
I could happily move back into a flat if it wasn't for the fact that I'd miss my garden..., If it hadn't been for her your father would be alive today.
11 You say `Be that as it may' when you want to move onto another subject or go further with the discussion, without deciding whether what has just been said is right or wrong.
be that as it may phrase
`Is he still just as fat?'<emdash>`I wouldn't know,' continued her mother, ignoring the interruption, `and be that as it may, he has made a fortune.'