American English

Definition of be auxiliary verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



     auxiliary verb
    auxiliary verb
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  1. 1used with a past participle to form the passive He was killed in the war. Where were they made? The house was still being built. You will be told what to do.
  2. 2used with a present participle to form progressive tenses I am studying Chinese. I'll be seeing him soon. What have you been doing this week? I'm always being criticized.
  3. 3used to make question tags (= short questions added to the end of statements) You're not hungry, are you? Ben's coming, isn't he? The old theater was torn down, wasn't it?
  4. 4used to avoid repeating the full form of a verb in the passive or a progressive tense Karen wasn't beaten in any of her games, but all the others were. “Are you coming with us?” “No, I'm not.”
  5. 5be to do something used to say what must or should be done I am to call them once I reach the airport. You are to report this to the police. What is to be done about this problem?
  6. 6be to do something used to say what is arranged to happen They are to be married in June.
  7. 7be to do something used to say what happened later He was to regret that decision for the rest of his life (= he did regret it).
  8. 8be not, never, etc. to be done/to be used to say what could not or did not happen Anna was nowhere to be found (= we could not find her anywhere). His wife was never to be seen again (= although he did not know it would be so at the time, he did not see her again). She wanted to write a successful novel, but it was not to be (= it turned out never to happen).
  9. 9if somebody/it were to do something… were somebody/it to do something… (formal) used to express a condition If we were to offer you more money, would you stay? Were we to offer you more money, would you stay?
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: be