ReadingESL stories and readings in English for ESL learners


 

  To Be

    The verb to be is one of the most common verbs in English.

    am, is, are, was, were, be, and been are all forms of the verb to be.

    It is used as an auxiliary, or helper, verb in making many verb tenses (both active and passive)

    It can also be used as the main verb in a sentence or clause.

                   

Form - Past & Present verb tenses (what it looks like):

Singular Subject (one) Present tense, affirmative Present tense, negative Past tense, affirmative Past tense, negative
I I am hungry.   I'm hungry. I'm not hungry. I was hungry. I wasn't hungry.
You You are hungry.  You're hungry. You're not hungry. You were hungry. You weren't hungry.
She She is hungry.  She's hungry. She's not hungry.  She isn't hungry.  She was hungry. She wasn't hungry.
He He is hungry.  He's hungry. He's not hungry.  He isn't hungry. He was hungry. He wasn't hungry.
It It is hungry.  It's hungry. It's not hungry.  It isn't hungry. It was hungry. It wasn't hungry.
The dog The dog is hungry.  The dog's hungry. The dog isn't hungry. The dog was hungry. The dog wasn't hungry.
Tom Tom is hungry.  Tom's hungry. Tom's not hungry.  Tom isn't hungry. Tom was hungry. Tom wasn't hungry.
Plural Subject (more than one) Present tense, affirmative Present tense, negative Past tense, affirmative Past tense, negative
We We are hungry.  We're hungry. We aren't hungry.  We're not hungry. We were hungry. We weren't hungry.
You You are hungry.  You're hungry You aren't hungry.  You're not hungry. You were hungry. You weren't hungry.
They They are hungry.  They're hungry. They aren't hungry.  They are not hungry. They were hungry. They weren't hungry.
The dogs The dogs are hungry.  The dogs aren't hungry.  The dogs were hungry. The dogs weren't hungry.
Tom and Ann Tom and Ann are hungry. Tom and Ann aren't hungry. Tom and Ann were hungry. Tom and Ann weren't hungry.

 

Form - Future verb tenses: 


 

Using to be:

In English to be is followed by:

followed by an adjective present tense past tense
little girl drinking a can of pop She is thirsty.
She isn't thirsty

Is she thirsty?  Yes, she is.
Is she thirsty?  No, she isn't.



Thirsty is an adjective.
This is the simple present verb tense.
The girl was thirsty.
The girl wasn't thirsty.

Was the girl thirsty?  Yes, she was.
Was the girl thirsty?  No, she wasn't.


This is the simple past verb tense.
followed by a noun phrase present tense past tense
Maserati car
photo by Tony Burnett
A Maserati is an expensive car.

A Maserarti is not an expensive car.
A Maserarti isn't an expensive car.

Is this an expensive car?
Yes, it is.
No, it isn't.



An expensive car is a noun phrase.
A Maserati was an expensive car.

A Maserati was not an expensive car.
A Maserati wasn't an expensive car.


Was this an expensive car?
Yes, it was.
No, it wasn't.
followed by the present participle of any verb present tense past tense
two women laughing They are laughing.
They aren't laughing.

Are they laughing?  Yes, they are.
Are they laughing?  No, they're not. 
                               No, they aren't.



Laughing is the present participle of the verb to laugh.
This is the present continuous verb tense.
They were laughing yesterday too.
They weren't laughing yesterday.

Were they laughing yesterday? 
Yes, they were.
No, they weren't.





This is the past continuous verb tense.
followed by the present participle of to go + to present tense past tense
a soccer match on the television We are going to watch TV tonight.
We're going to watch TV tonight.

We aren't going to watch TV tonight.
We're not going to watch TV tonight.

Are we going to watch TV tonight?
Yes, we are.
No, we're not.  No, we aren't.


This is called the 'going to' future tense
We were going to watch TV tonight but the TV isn't working.

We weren't going to watch TV tonight but we changed our minds.

Were you going to watch TV tonight?
Yes, we were.
No, we weren't.


This is the "future in the past" verb tense.
followed by a preposition present tense past tense
four bottles of beer and three glasses on a table The drinks are on the table.

The drinks are not on the table
The drinks aren't on the table.

Are the drinks on the table?
Yes, they are.
No, they aren't.


Where are the drinks?
They are on the table.

On is a preposition.
The drinks were on the table.

The drinks were not on the table.
The drinks weren't on the table.

Were the drinks on the table?
Yes, they were.
No, they weren't.


Where were the drinks?
They were on the table.

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mcfc 2011