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Exercise 1 Exercise 2

1. The verb to be in present

The verb to be is one of the most important verbs in English. It can be used as a main verb and also as an auxiliary verb to form other verb tenses. It's mainly used to describe characteristics or states.

TO BE (characteristic)
She is tall.
TO BE (state)
She is sad.

2. Structure of the verb to be in the present tense

  • Affirmative form

    Affirmative sentences are those that say or state that something is true.

    Subject To be Examples
    I am
    'm
    I'm in the kitchen.
    You are
    're
    You're very intelligent.
    He is
    's
    He's at work.
    She She's my wife.
    It It's for kids.
    We are
    're
    We're strong.
    You You're students.
    They They're on holiday.
    In English, the contracted form ('m, 're, s) is used in informal contexts. However, in formal contexts it is preferable to use the full form (am, is, are).
  • Negative form

    Negative sentences are those that say or state that something is not true. So, the particle not is added after the verb.

    Subject To be + not Examples
    I am not
    'm not
    I'm not in the kitchen.
    You are not
    're not
    aren't
    You're not very intelligent.
    He is not
    's not
    isn't
    He's not at work.
    She She's not my wife.
    It It's not for kids.
    We are not
    're not
    aren't
    We're not strong.
    You You're not students.
    They They're not on holiday.
  • Interrogative form

    Interrogative sentences or questions are those used to ask for certain information.

    To be Subject Examples
    Am I...? Am I in the kitchen?
    Are you...? Are you very intelligent?
    Is he...? Is he at work?
    she...? Is she my wife?
    it...? Is it for kids?
    Are we...? Are we strong?
    you...? Are you students?
    they...? Are they on holiday?

    There is no contracted form for interrogative sentences.

    Are you on holiday? / 'Re you on holiday?

    Short answers are those constructions that are used to answer yes or no to a question. In English, it is not usual to answer simply with the adverbs yes or no, but they are followed by the corresponding subject and the verb to be.

    Adverb Subject To be
    Yes, I am
    you are
    he is
    she
    it
    we are
    you
    they
    Adverb Subject To be
    No, I 'm not
    you 're not
    aren't
    he 's not
    isn't
    she
    it
    we 're not
    aren't
    you
    they
    In the short affirmative answers there is no contracted form. In the negative ones there are the two forms, not contracted and contracted but it is more common to use the second form at a colloquial level.
    Are you with Martha?  Yes, I am.
    Is he famous?  No, he's not.

3. The verb to be in past

We use the past of the verb to be to describe characteristics or states and other situations that took place in the past.

WAS / WERE  (characteristic)
My grandma was a model at my age.
WAS / WERE  (state)
We were excited to watch the film.

4. Structure of the verb to be in past

  • Affirmative form

    In affirmative sentences the verb is placed after the subject and must be followed by a complement.

    Subject to be Examples
    I was Yesterday I was in your town.
    You were You were excited to go to the cinema.
    He was He was a teacher for many years.
    She As a child, she was a good student.
    It It was open in the morning.
    We were We were in a very long road.
    You You were students two years ago.
    They They were at the cinema last night.
  • Negative form

    In negative sentences, as in the present, the particle not is added after the verb (or we use the contracted form) and then the complement.

    Subject to be + not Examples
    I was not
    wasn't
    Yesterday I wasn't in your town.
    You were not
    weren't
    You weren't excited to go to the cinema.
    He was not
    wasn't
    He wasn't a teacher for many years.
    She As a child, she wasn't a good student.
    It It wasn't open in the morning.
    We were not
    weren't
    We weren't in a very long road.
    You You weren't students two years ago.
    They They weren't at the cinema last night.
  • Interrogative form

    In interrogative sentences the verb is moved to the beginning of the sentence and the contracted form is not possible.

    to be Subject Examples
    Was I...? Was I in your town yesterday?
    Were you...? Were you excited to go to the cinema?
    Was he...? Was he a teacher for many years?
    she...? Was she a good student as a child?
    it...? Was it open in the morning?
    Were we...? Were we in a very long road?
    you...? Were you students two years ago?
    they...? Were they at the cinema last night?

    Short answers are formed with the adverb "yes" or "no" followed by the personal pronoun and the verb "to be" in the past tense.

    Adverb Subject To be
    Yes, I was
    you were
    he was
    she
    it
    we were
    you
    they
    Was Orson ill on Monday?  Yes, he was.
    Adverb Subject To be
    No, I wasn't
    you weren't
    he wasn't
    she
    it
    we weren't
    you
    they
    Were they bored in class? No, they weren't.

¡Remember!

The verb to be is one of the most important verbs in English. It can be used as a main verb and also as an auxiliary verb to form other verb tenses. It's mainly used to describe characteristics or states.
  Structure Examples
AFFIRMATIVE Present Subject + am / is / are + (complemeno) She is fast.
Past Subject + was / were + (complement) Mike was the best in his class.
NEGATIVE Present Subject + am / is / are + not + (complement) You aren't at work.
Past Subject + was / were + not + (complement) Jim and Laura weren't at the party.
INTERROGATIVE Present Am / is / are + subject + (complement)? Are they at the party? Yes, they are.
Past Was / were + subject + (complement)? Were they busy? Yes, they were.

 

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