be

I [[t]bi, STRONG biː[/t]] AUXILIARY VERB USES
am, are, is, being, was, were, been
(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) AUX You use be with a present participle to form the continuous tenses of verbs.
be going tosee going

[AUX -ing] This is happening in every school throughout the country...

[AUX -ing] She didn't always think carefully about what she was doing...

[AUX -ing] Pratt & Whitney has announced that it will be making further job reductions...

[AUX -ing] He had only been trying to help...

[AUX] He's doing better than I am.

2) AUX You use be with a past participle to form the passive voice.

[AUX -ed] Forensic experts were called in...

[AUX -ed] Her husband was killed in a car crash...

[AUX -ed] The cost of electricity from coal-fired stations is expected to fall...

[AUX -ed] Similar action is being taken by the US government.

3) AUX You use be with an infinitive to indicate that something is planned to happen, that it will definitely happen, or that it must happen.
be about tosee about

[AUX to-inf] The talks are to begin tomorrow...

[AUX to-inf] It was to be Johnson's first meeting with the board in nearly a month...

[AUX to-inf] You must take the whole project more seriously if you are to succeed...

[AUX to-inf] You are to answer to Brian, to take your orders from him.

4) AUX You use be with an infinitive to say or ask what should happen or be done in a particular situation, how it should happen, or who should do it.

[AUX to-inf] What am I to do without him?...

[AUX to-inf] Who is to say which of them had more power?...

[AUX to-inf] What is to be done?...

[AUX to-inf] Professor Hirsch is to be commended for bringing the state of our educational system to public notice.

5) AUX You use was and were with an infinitive to talk about something that happened later than the time you are discussing, and was not planned or certain at that time.

[AUX to-inf] He started something that was to change the face of China...

[AUX to-inf] A few hours later he was to prove it.

6) AUX You can say that something is to be seen, heard, or found in a particular place to mean that people can see it, hear it, or find it in that place.

[AUX -ed] Little traffic was to be seen on the streets...

[AUX -ed] They are to be found all over the world.

II [[t]bi, STRONG biː[/t]] OTHER VERB USES
am, are, is, being, was, were, been
(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.

[V n] She's my mother...

[V n] This is Elizabeth Blunt, BBC, West Africa...

[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] He is fifty and has been through two marriages...

[V adj] The sky was black...

[V adj] It is 1,267 feet high...

[V prep/adv] Cheney was in Madrid...

[V prep/adv] His house is next door...

[V prep/adv] Their last major film project was in 1964...

`Is it safe?' - `Well of course it is.'...

He's still alive isn't he?

2) V-LINK You use be, with `it' as the subject, in clauses where you are describing something or giving your judgement of a situation.

[it V adj] It was too chilly for swimming...

[it V adj to-inf] Sometimes it is necessary to say no...

[it V adj that] It is likely that investors will face losses...

[it V adj -ing] It's nice having friends to chat to...

[it V n that] It's a good thing I brought lots of handkerchiefs...

[it V n -ing] It's no good just having meetings...

[it V n to-inf] It's a good idea to avoid refined food...

[it V prep to-inf] It's up to us to prove it.

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.

[there V n] 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] There were always things to think about when she went walking.

4) V-LINK You use be as a link between a subject and a clause and in certain other clause structures, as shown below.

[V n] It was me she didn't like, not what I represented...

[V to-inf] What the media should not do is to exploit people's natural fears...

[V -ing] Our greatest problem is convincing them...

[V wh] The question was whether protection could be improved...

[V that] All she knew was that I'd had a broken marriage...

[V as if] Local residents said it was as if there had been a nuclear explosion.

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]

[V cl] The fact is, the players gave everything they had...

[V cl] The plan is good; the problem is it doesn't go far enough.

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.

[V adj] 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.

7) V-LINK The form `be' is used occasionally instead of the normal forms of the present tense, especially after `whether'. [FORMAL]

[be n] They should then be able to refer you to the appropriate type of practitioner, whether it be your GP, dentist, or optician.

8) VERB If something is, it exists. [mainly FORMAL or LITERARY]

It hurt so badly he wished to cease to be.

...to be or not to be.

Syn:
9) V-LINK To be yourself means to behave in the way that is right and natural for you and your personality.

[V pron-refl] She'd learnt to be herself and to stand up for her convictions.

10) PHRASE: usu v-link PHR If someone or something is, for example, as happy as can be or as quiet as could be, they are extremely happy or extremely quiet.
11) PHRASE: V inflects, PHR n 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.

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.

12) PHRASE (vagueness) 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.

`Is he still just as fat?' - `I wouldn't know,' continued her mother, ignoring the interruption, `and be that as it may, he has made a fortune.'

13) PHRASE: V inflects If you say that you are not yourself, you mean you are not feeling well.

She is not herself. She came near to a breakdown.


English dictionary. 2008.

Synonyms:
(whether in fact or in imagination), , ,


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