Basic English Grammar: All forms of the verb TO BE

TO BE or not TO BE? That is the question! In this lesson, I’ll be covering all the forms of the most important verb in English – the irregular verb TO BE. Even if you already know this verb, you may want to review and make sure you know how to use it correctly in every form in present, past, and future tenses. I’ll also give you some examples of famous sayings and song titles using this verb. I AM certain this lesson WILL BE helpful to you. Don’t forget to test your knowledge by doing the quiz at


Hello. I’m Gill at, and today’s lesson is on the verb “to be”, which I’m sure you’re familiar with already, but because it’s an irregular verb and it changes a lot, there are lots of different words… They don’t look like this “be”, which is the base form; they look completely different. You may think you know it, and perhaps you do; but sometimes, under pressure or whatever, you might just forget the correct form. So, this is just to go over the details of it for you to be sure that you really do know this verb really well, because the thing about the verb “to be” is that it’s used all the time. The equivalent in your own language… I’m sure you use all the time the equivalent verb “to be” in your language. So, in English, too, it is… Is used all the time. Okay? So, here we go, let’s have a look at the details. Right.

So, the infinitive, the base form: “to be”. Okay? And then in the present tense: “am”, “are”, and “is” for the different people. First-, second-, third-person, singular, and plural. Okay? So: “I am” – first person; “you are” – second-person”; “he”, “she”, “it”, “is” – third-person. They’re all singular. And then in the plural: “we are” – first-person plural, “we are”; “you are” – second-person plural; and “they are” – third-person plural. So, “are” is used in all of the plural forms, so that’s easier to remember. Okay. So: “am”, “are”, “is” are the options in the present tense. Okay.

So, then when we move to the past tense, it changes completely. So, it’s: “was” and “were”. So, you might think: “Is that really part of the verb ‘to be’? It looks completely different”, but it is. “I was”, “you were”, “he was”, “she was”, “it was”, “we were”, “you were”, “they were”. Okay? “Was” and “were” in the past… Simple past tense. Okay.

And then, for the future, it’s very, very easy. The future tense for all English verbs is very easy, because you just use this word: “will” plus the base form of the verb. “Will be”. So, where some verbs in some languages, you change the ending of the verb to form the future tense, in English, we just add this word in front. “Will”, “will be”, “will sing”, “will eat”, “will drink”, “will talk”. It’s just “will”, so that’s nice and easy. Okay. But it’s the base form from the infinitive that you use with “will”. “Will be”. Right.

And then we come to the present participle, the “ing” form, which is: “being”, so that’s easy. You’ve got the base form plus “ing”, which is just like a lot of other… All the other verbs “ing”; “drinking”, “eating”, “talking”. Right. So, somebody… You could say: “Oh, the shop assistant is being helpful”. Or: “A friend of mine is being silly”, or “being difficult”, or whatever. So, in the present participle; a sort of continuous activity of being helpful, or being silly, or being difficult. Okay.

And based on this present participle, you can also use it as a noun. “A being” is a person… It’s a strange word for a person, really. “A being”. It’s when you think: “Oo, is that…? Is that an alien or something? What is that being over there? Is that a human”? “Being”. We do have the term: “human being”, that’s quite a normal word to use with the word “human”. “Human being”. Okay? But “beings” in the plural often suggests aliens from some other planet. Beings from Mars, or something like that. Okay? So, you can use it as a noun. Right.

And then, finally, in this part of the lesson, the past participle is “been”. “Been”. Okay? So, you got “be” and “en” added. And with the past participle, you have to use the auxiliary verb. “Have” or “has”. “Has been”. “It has been a really good day.”, “We have been to the seaside”, something like that. We went to… On holiday… “We have been somewhere really nice today.”, “The weather has been really good.” Okay? So that’s the past participle.

And, again, just like here, you can have a noun: “a has-been” with a little hyphen in it. “He’s just… Oh, he’s a has-been.” It may be someone who’s had a really good career, but now he’s finished; he’s past his best. So, it’s not a very nice way to talk about somebody. “Oh, that old has-been, you know?” And it’s like just thinking somebody’s finished and they’re of no interest, or no use to anybody anymore. So, it’s not a very nice thing to say about anybody. […]


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49 thoughts on “Basic English Grammar: All forms of the verb TO BE

  1. Hi Gil, There are 2 "to be" verbs in my native language, Portuguese, and a lot of times, ser and estar. Será, serão, seriam, seríamos,serei seremos,somos, estão, estarão, estariam, estavam, estiveram, estaremos, estivemos, estive, esteve, some of the times of the complex language that is Portuguese.

  2. Hi Gill! I really enjoyed while watching the video. You're amaizing teacher. You explained the verb to be in very easy way.

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  4. you prove age is just numbers and illusion of eyes……….very active young lady……….barbie teacher ……god bless you.

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