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Leçons Anglais


The English Verb "to be"

The verb "to be" is, in its infinitive form, part of one of the most famous lines in world literature:

To be, or not to be, that is the question.

—from "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare

Most verbs describe action, but "to be" describes a state of being: how or what you are or how somebody is. The present tense conjugation of "to be" is: I am; he, she, or it is; you are; they are; and we are.

"To be" can describe your name and your profession:

My name is Jack Thomas. I am a finance student.
Caption 1, An American: in London

It can describe how you are feeling:

I've never been to New York before and I am so excited to go!
Caption 16, English with Lauren: Emotions

If the sentence is a negation, the word "not" appears after the verb:

I am not a lawyer.
Caption 15, English: common phrases

In the first person singular, "I am" is often contracted to "I'm"; "he is," "she is," or "it is" to "he's," "she's," or "it's"; "you are" to "you're"; "they are" to "they're" and "we are" to "we're":

Today we're at the top of the Empire State Building.
Caption 3, English for Beginners: Letters and Numbers

See how we're part of the global economy?
Caption 13, Dissolve inc.: Generic Brand Video

Further Learning 
Browse some videos at Yabla English and find some other examples of the verb "to be" used in context in real conversations.


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