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How to Use ‘Be’ – Video Lesson

by Oli Redman on 3 February, 2016 , No comments

In this lesson, you can learn about the verb to be in English. You can learn how to use to be in simple sentences and questions when you speak English.

1. Forms of To Be

  • I am
  • you are
  • he is
  • she is
  • it is
  • we are
  • they are

2. Short Forms of To Be

I amI’m
you areyou’re
he ishe’s
she isshe’s
it isit’s
we arewe’re
they arethey’re

 

3. Negative Short Forms of To Be

I am notI’m not
you are notyou aren’tyou’re not
he is nothe isn’the’s not
she is notshe isn’tshe’s not
it is notit isn’tit’s not
we are notwe aren’twe’re not
they are notthey aren’tthey’re not

The verb be is everywhere in English. We use it all the time, so you need to know how to use be correctly. Do you know the sentence:

  • To be, or not to be – that is the question

It’s from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It’s only 10 words long, and uses the verb to be three times.

So if you want to speak well, practicing the verb to be will help your English.

1. How to Use Different Forms of Be

Be has different forms.

Let’s look. We say:

  • I am
  • You are
  • He/She/It is
  • We are
  • You are
  • They are

Do you know these forms? If not, repeat them again and again, until you know them perfectly!

Let’s do it one more time: I am, you are, he/she/it is, we are, you are, they are.

What about my brother? My brother am… My brother are… My brother is… Which is correct?

My brother = he

  • ─> My brother is

What about the cups? The cups am… The cups are… The cups is… Which is correct?

How to Use To Be in English Video Lesson - cups image

The cups = they

  • ─> The cups are

Next, let’s look at…

2. How to Make Simple Sentences with Be

How can we use be? There are many ways. We can use be with a number:

  • I am 29 years old.
  • You are 190cm tall.
  • It is 5 o’clock

We can use be with a noun, to say what something is.

  • He is a doctor.
  • Sarah is a student.
  • It is a cookbook.

You can use be with an adjective, like hungry or quiet.

  • We are hungry.
  • You are very quiet.
  • They are German.

What if you want to make a negative sentence?

3. How to Make Negatives with Be

It’s easy to make negative sentences with be. Just add not after the verb.

  • I am 29 years old ─> I am not 29 years old.
  • Sarah is a student ─> Sarah is not a student.
  • We are hungry ─> We are not hungry.

What about:

  • She is a doctor.

How to Use To Be in English Video Lesson - doctor image

Can you make it negative?

  • How to Use To Be in English Video Lesson - not a doctor image
  • She is not a doctor.

Easy, right? Good, let’s look at:

4. How to Make Short Forms (Contractions) with Be

When we speak, we often make short forms (also called contractions) with be.

What am I talking about?

For example, you saw the example:

  • I am 29 years old.

We don’t usually say this. We usually say:

  • I’m 29 years old.

I’m is a short form or contraction. We take two words and put them together. This is easier to say.

Let’s look at some more short forms with the verb be.

  • I am ─> I’m
  • You are ─> You’re
  • He is ─> He’s
  • She is ─> She’s
  • It is ─> It’s
  • We are ─> We’re
  • They are ─> They’re

You can also make short forms with nouns:

  • Sarah is a student ─> Sarah’s a student.
  • My camera is Japanese ─> My camera’s Japanese.

What about short forms with negatives? Let’s look:

I am notI’m not
you are notyou aren’tyou’re not
he is nothe isn’the’s not
she is notshe isn’tshe’s not
it is notit isn’tit’s not
we are notwe aren’twe’re not
they are notthey aren’tthey’re not

 

Let’s look at some examples:

  • I am not 29 ─> I’m not 29.
  • He is a doctor ─> He isn’t a doctor OR He’s not a doctor.

OK, your turn.

  • >It is not a cookbook.

What are the two short forms?

  • ─> It isn’t a cookbook OR It’s not a cookbook.

Let’s do one more:

  • They are not German.

Can you make the short forms?

  • ─> They aren’t German OR They’re not German.

When you speak English, remember to use short forms with be. You’ll sound more natural!

Let’s learn to do one more thing with be:

5. How to Make Simple Questions with Be

Let’s see how to use be to make simple yes/no questions. Look at a sentence:

  • He is a doctor.

Can you make a yes/no question from this sentence?

  • Is he a doctor?

What happened? We moved the verb be to the beginning.

Let’s look at another example:

  • Sarah is a student.

Can you make the question?

  • Is Sarah a student?

OK, one more, a bit different.

Can you make the question?

  • Are you Italian?

The same thing happens. Just move be to the beginning.

What about:

  • They are German.

Can you make the question?

  • Are they German?

Same idea again. Not too difficult, right?

OK, let’s review what we’ve studied in this class.

6. Review

Can you remember what you learned in this lesson? You saw:

  • How to make simple sentences with be
  • How to make short forms with be
  • How to make simple questions with be

Remember, you can watch the video again, to review the topic, if you want to!

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Oli RedmanHow to Use ‘Be’ – Video Lesson