American English

Definition of be verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they am/are
    he / she / it is
    past simple was
    , strong form
    past simple were
    , strong form
    past participle been
    -ing form being
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  1. 1linking verb there is/are + noun to exist; to be present Is there a God? Once upon a time there was a princess… I tried calling her but there was no answer. There's a bank down the road. Was there a pool at the hotel?
  2. 2[intransitive] + adv./prep. to be located; to be in a place The town is three miles away. If you're looking for your file, it's on the table. Mary's upstairs.
  3. 3[intransitive] + adv./prep. to happen at a time or in a place The party is on Friday evening. The meetings are always in the main conference room.
  4. 4[intransitive] + adv./prep. to remain in a place She has been in her room for hours. They're here till Christmas.
  5. 5[intransitive] + adv./prep. to attend an event; to be present in a place I'll be at the party. He'll be here soon (= will arrive soon).
  6. 6[intransitive] (only used in the perfect tenses) + adv./prep. to visit or call I've never been to Spain. He had been to Asia many times.
  7. 7[intransitive] be from… used to say where someone was born or where their home is She's from Oregon.
  8. 8linking verb used when you are naming people or things, describing them, or giving more information about them + noun Today is Monday. “Who is that?” “It's my brother.” Susan is a doctor. He wants to be (= become) a pilot when he grows up. + adj. It's beautiful! Life is unfair. He is ten years old. “How are you?” “I'm very well, thanks.” Be quick! be (that)… The fact is(that) we don't have enough money. be doing something The problem is getting it all done in the time available. be to do something The problem is to get it all done in the time available.
  9. 9linking verb it is/was used when you are describing a situation or saying what you think about it + adj. It was really hot in the sauna. It's strange how she never comes to see us any more. He thinks it's clever to make fun of people. + noun It would be a shame if you lost it. It's going to be a great match.
  10. 10linking verb it is/was used to talk about time + noun It's two thirty. + adj. It was late at night when we finally arrived.
  11. 11linking verb + noun used to say what something is made of Is your jacket real leather?
  12. 12linking verb [intransitive] used to say who something belongs to or who it is intended for be mine, yours, etc. The money's not yours—It's John's. be for me, you, etc. This package is for you.
  13. 13linking verb + noun to cost “How much is that dress?” “Eighty dollars.”
  14. 14linking verb + noun to be equal to Three and three is six. How much is a thousand dollars in euros? Let x be the sum of a and b. Las Vegas is not Nevada (= do not think that all of Nevada is like Las Vegas).
  15. 15linking verb be everything, nothing, etc. (to someone) used to say how important something is to someone Money isn't everything (= it is not the only important thing). A thousand dollars is nothing to someone as rich as he is.
  16. Idioms
    the be-all and end-all (of something) (informal)
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    the most important part; all that matters Her career is the be-all and end-all of her existence.
    if it wasn't/weren't for…
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    used to say that someone or something stopped someone or something from happening If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be alive today.
    leave/let somebody/something be
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    to leave someone or something alone without disturbing them or it Leave her be—she obviously doesn't want to talk about it. Let the poor dog be (= don't annoy it).
    (in compounds) future his bride-to-be mothers-to-be (= pregnant women)
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: be