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5 Levels of English Grammar – Be – Video

by Gina Mares on January 30, 2020 , Comments Off on 5 Levels of English Grammar – Be – Video

In this lesson, you can learn about using the verb ‘be’, and test your English grammar skills!

Are you a beginner? Or, are you a high-level English learner who’s been studying for years? This lesson will have something for you whatever your English level is. You’ll see many ways to use the verb ‘be’, from the most basic uses to complex structures.

QUIZ: 5 Levels—Using ‘Be’

Now, test your knowledge of what you learned in the lesson by trying this quiz.

The quiz follows the same order as the lesson. There are questions for level 1, then levels 2, 3, 4 and 5.

You can get help with some questions if you press ‘Hint’. You will get your score at the end, when you can click on ‘View Questions’ to see all the correct answers.

Here’s how this lesson works.

There are five levels of using ‘be’. Each level is more difficult than the previous one.

Level one is beginner. Levels two to four are intermediate. Level five is high intermediate to advanced.

If you’re not a beginner, start at level two! At each level, you can see what you need to focus on if you have difficulties.

Level One

Number one on athletics all weather running track

Here are five sentences. Complete the sentences with one word.

  1. She ________ 29 years old.
  2. These seats ________ ours.
  3. He ________ from Italy; he’s from Spain.
  4. I ________ ill yesterday.
  5. Both of them ________ at the meeting last week.

Pause the video and think about your answers. If you want extra practice, say your answers aloud!

Ready? Here are the answers.

  1. She is 29 years old.
  2. These seats are ours.
  3. He isn’t from Italy; he’s from Spain.
  4. I was ill yesterday.
  5. Both of them were at the meeting last week.

Did you get all five right? You should probably fast forward to level 2!

Did you make a mistake? Here’s what you need.

One: you need to know the positive forms of ‘be’, including the past forms: ‘was’ and ‘were’. Here they are.

PresentPast
I amI was
you areyou were
(s)he/it is(s)he/it is was
we arewe were
they arethey were

You also need to know the negative forms of ‘be’. Here they are. Again, pause if you need time to look.

PresentPresent contractedPastPast contracted
I am notI was notI wasn’t
you are notyou aren’t/you’re notyou were notyou weren’t
(s)he/it is not(s)he/it isn’t/(s)he/it’s not(s)he/it was not(s)he/it wasn’t
we are notwe aren’t/we’re notwe were notwe weren’t
they are notthey aren’t/they’re notwe were notthey weren’t

You can see that most negatives have a contraction, or sometimes two. You should use the contraction most of the time when you’re speaking. It doesn’t matter which contracted form you use.

Ready? Let’s go to the next level of using be – level two!

Level Two

Number two on athletics all weather running track

Here are your five sentences. Complete each sentence with one word. Contractions – like ‘isn’t’ – count as one word.

  1. Where ________ you staying at the moment?
  2. ________ coming to my party tonight, aren’t you?
  3. I’ll _______ waiting for you when you arrive.
  4. It ________ raining when I left, but five minutes later it started.
  5. Why is he ________ so difficult? He’s not normally like this.

Again, pause the video to think about your answers if you need time.

Ready? Here are the answers.

  1. Where are you staying at the moment?
  2. You’re coming to my party tonight, aren’t you?
  3. I’ll be waiting for you when you arrive.
  4. It wasn’t raining when I left, but five minutes later it started.
  5. Why is he being so difficult? He’s not normally like this.

What’s the point here?

You can use ‘be’ to make continuous forms. Continuous forms have many uses; for example, you use continuous forms to talk about something happening at one moment in time.

For all continuous forms, you need to remember one rule: ‘be’ plus -ing verb.

All continuous forms need both things: ‘be’ and a verb with -ing.

In these five sentences, you saw present, past and future continuous sentences.

There are other continuous forms – you’ll see some of them later!

Let’s see all the forms for the present continuous, past continuous, and future continuous. You’ll see forms with the verb ‘go’ as an example. Each list will appear for three seconds; pause the video if you need more time to look. Also, don’t forget that you can see all this information on the free lesson page on our website. If you’re watching on YouTube, you can find a link in the video description.

PresentPastFuture
I am goingI was goingI will be going
you are goingyou were goingyou will be going
(s)he/it is going(s)he/it was going(s)he/it will be going
we are goingwe were goingwe will be going
they are goingthey were goingthey will be going

What about sentence number five? Did you get it right? Do you find it strange?

You can use ‘be’ in the continuous, normally to talk about people. You use it when someone is behaving in a way which isn’t normal for them.

For example, if you say ‘She’s being so impatient at the moment’, you mean that she’s generally a patient person, but she’s behaving impatiently now. Maybe she’s under a lot of stress, and it’s having an influence on her.

When you use ‘be’ in the continuous, you have the verb ‘be’ twice, like ‘she’s being’.

This might look strange, but ‘be’ follows the same rules as every other verb. You make a continuous form by using the verb ‘be’ plus an -ing verb.

That’s the end of level two. Remember that you can always review a section if you need to.

Level Three

Number three on athletics all weather running track

Here are five more sentences. This time, you need to complete each sentence with two words. One word should be a form of ‘be’. Remember that contractions – like ‘isn’t’ – count as one word.

  1. I ________ a nurse for five years.
  2. I’m sure it ________ cold tomorrow.
  3. I hope he isn’t going ________ late again.
  4. She ________ here for long.
  5. When he decided to do his master’s degree in education, he ________ a teacher for 15 years.

Ready? Here are the answers.

  1. I’ve been a nurse for five years.
  2. I’m sure it will be cold tomorrow.
  3. I hope he isn’t going to be late again.
  4. She hasn’t been here for long.
  5. When he decided to do his master’s degree in education, he had been a teacher for 15 years.

So, what’s the idea here?

You can use ‘be’ in different times and tenses, like any other verb.

‘Be’ has perfect forms, like ‘have been’, ‘has been’ and ‘had been’.

‘Be’ doesn’t behave differently to other verbs here. Sometimes we hear questions like “How do you use ‘have been’ and ‘has been’?” What’s the difference between ‘have been’ and ‘had been’?

These aren’t questions about using ‘be’. If you’re asking these questions, you need to learn more about perfect tenses.

‘Be’ can also be used in the future, with verbs like ‘will’ or ‘be going to’.

Like you saw in level two, you can have the verb ‘be’ twice in one sentence if you use a verb like ‘be going to’, which contains ‘be’.

In number three, the first ‘be’ – ‘isn’t’ – is part of the verb ‘be going to’, which you use to talk about the future.

The second ‘be’ is the main verb. It goes with the word ‘late’.

If you’ve got everything right so far, you know a lot about English verb forms and different levels of using be.

Ready for level four?

Level 4

Number four on athletics all weather running track

This time, let’s do something different.

Here are five sentences, like before. This time, there is a mistake in each sentence. Can you correct the mistakes?

  1. My car has stolen.
  2. She has been lived here since 2015.
  3. When did the robber arrested?
  4. The room was being cleaning when we arrived.
  5. Emigrating to another country can be involved a lot of bureaucracy.

Pause the video, and think about the corrections. Write your answers down, if you want.

Ready? Here are the answers.

  1. My car has been stolen.
  2. She has been lived here since 2015.
  3. When did was the robber arrested?
  4. The room was being cleaning cleaned when we arrived.
  5. Emigrating to another country can be involved involve a lot of bureaucracy.

Can you see what connects these five sentences?

They all involve the passive voice.

To make the passive voice, you need two things: ‘be’ plus a past participle.

Often, English learners make mistakes like these. Sometimes, they forget to use ‘be’ in a passive sentence, like in sentence number one.

Sometimes, they add ‘be’ where it isn’t needed, like in sentences two and five.

Be careful, because remember that ‘be’ is also used to make continuous forms. And, there are passive continuous forms. Do you mix these up?

It’s not always easy, but there are simple rules which work.

Continuous forms use ‘be’ plus an -ing verb. This rule has no exceptions.

Passive forms use ‘be’ plus a past participle. This rule also has no exceptions!

So, in sentence four, you have a continuous form: ‘was being’, and a passive form: ‘being cleaned’. They overlap, but they follow the rules. ‘Be’ plus -ing verb, and then ‘be’ plus past participle.

If you have difficulties here, then study continuous forms and the passive voice. Pay attention to passive continuous forms, so that you can avoid mistakes with ‘be’ like you saw in our examples.

OK, let’s move on to our last level of using be!

Level 5

Number five on athletics all weather running track

Here are your sentences. You need to complete the missing words. This time, you can use one or two words. At least one word in each gap must be a form of ‘be’.

  1. I don’t like ________ talked to like that.
  2. A: It’s a shame you couldn’t come.
    B: Yeah… I would like to ________ there.
  3. A: What’s that smell?
    B: Paint? I guess the rooms upstairs must ________ redecorated.
  4. She denied ________ involved in any of the negotiations which led to the fraudulent payments.
  5. ________ a nurse for many years, he knew how to give effective first aid until the ambulance arrived.

How did you do? Here are the full sentences.

  1. I don’t like being talked to like that.
  2. A: It’s a shame you couldn’t come.
    B: Yeah… I would like to have been there.
  3. A: What’s that smell?
    B: Paint? I guess the rooms upstairs must be being redecorated.
  4. She denied having been involved in any of the negotiations which led to the fraudulent payments.
  5. Having been a nurse for many years, he knew how to give effective first aid until the ambulance arrived.

So, what’s this about?

Like every verb, ‘be’ has infinitive and gerund forms.

You can see this in sentence number one. The sentence is passive, so you need – remember? – ‘be’ plus a past participle. But, you’re using the verb ‘like’, which needs a gerund.

So, ‘talk’ is passive, but also a gerund: ‘being talked’.

Usually, we talk about infinitives and gerunds like they’re single things. But, there are different infinitives. There’s an infinitive with ‘to’, and an infinitive without ‘to’. There are also continuous infinitives – ‘be being’ – and perfect infinitives – ‘have been’.

The gerund – being – also has a perfect form – having been.

You often need the different infinitives with modal verbs. Modal verbs don’t have past forms, so if you want to express a past meaning, you need to use a perfect infinitive after the verb.

For example, look at sentence number two. Think about the difference between these two sentences.

  • I would like to be there.
  • I would like to have been there.

‘Would’ is a modal verb, so it doesn’t have a past form. ‘I would like to be there’ could mean now, or in the future. To talk about the past, you need a perfect infinitive: ‘I would like to have been there.’

You can see a continuous infinitive in sentence three. The room is in the process of being redecorated now, so you use a continuous form. It’s also passive, so you need the verb ‘be’ twice – once for the continuous form, and once for the passive form.

Sentence four uses a perfect gerund, and is also passive. Perfect forms need a past participle, and passive forms also need a past participle. This means you have two past participles in a row: ‘been involved’.

Confused? It might take time to get comfortable with. However, if you could understand the previous parts of this lesson, then you have the tools you need to understand and form sentences like this.

These sentences don’t require new rules or ideas; they require you to combine rules, because they combine multiple verbs. However, each step follows a simple, predictable rule.

What about sentence five? This looks like a gerund, although technically it’s a participle. Participle clauses like this are a way to add extra information to a noun. In this case, the subject of the sentence is ‘he’, and the participle clause gives us extra information about him. You use a perfect participle because you’re talking about the past as well as the present.

If you liked test your level here, don’t forget to try our Grammar English Level Test to check what your overall grammar level is!

Thanks for watching!

Gina Mares5 Levels of English Grammar – Be – Video

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