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Present Tense of the Verb to Be | Page 3

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Connecting Ideas with “Be”

“To be” connects nouns and pronouns to nouns, adjectives, places, and amounts. For example, you can say the following:

  • John is a doctor. (noun + be + noun)
  • Giraffes are tall. (noun + be + adjective)
  • We are happy. (pronoun + be + adjective)
  • My family is in New York. (noun + be + place)

Noun + be + noun

  • Susan is an architect.
  • Belgium is a small country.
  • Elephants are big animals.
  • Those people are students.

Pronoun + be + noun

  • I am an American.
  • She is a doctor.
  • That is my dog.
  • We are teachers.
  • They are Italian.

Noun/Pronoun + be + adjective

  • John is tired.
  • Mary is very intelligent.
  • These roses are not red.
  • This soup is cold.

    Noun/Pronoun + be + place

    My parents are not home.

    I’m not in San Diego today. I’m in San Francisco.

    Brazil isn’tin Central America. It’s in South America.

    My sisters are in Germany this week.

    Noun + be + amount

    • This bread is 5 dollars.
    • The boxes are 100 kg.
    • Ricardo is 31 years old.
    • Washington is 373 km from New York.
    • Washington is 4 hours from New York.

    Other Uses of Be

    Impersonal “it” + be + adjective

    In English, a verb always has a subject. Where there is no subject, you must use “it” (for example, when you talk about the weather).


    • It is cold today.
    • It is 3°C.
    • It is a beautiful day today.
    • It is cloudy today.

    Impersonal “it” + be + noun

    Sometimes “it” does not refer to a person or thing. “It” is there to conjugate the verb.


    • Who is there? — It is John.
    • It is rude to interrupt people.
    • It is a good idea to learn English if you are in business.

    Impersonal “it” + be + prepositional phrase

    Sometimes be is used with prepositional phrases. A prepositional phrase has a preposition and other words to form an expression.

    • This rose is for you.
    • The coffee machine is out of order.
    • My parents are in business.
    • My birthday is on December 10. That is next week.
    • We are out of milk. Let’s go to the supermarket.
    • I am into pop music.

    You often use prepositional phrases with places, for example, “He is in New York today.” “In New York” is a prepositional phrase. (See “Noun/Pronoun + be + place” above).

    • Is Ahmed at home. — No, he's at work.
    • Annette isn’t from California. She's from Florida.
    • My parents are in business.
    • Kenya is in East Africa.

    That + be + adjective

    We use “that” to refer to something that someone just said.


    • I got 100 points on the test. — That is nice.
    • Janet’s dog is sick. — Oh, no! That is so sad.
    • Sudan has 255 pyramids. — Wow! That is interesting.

    In spoken English and in informal writing, you can contract the above sentences.

    • That’s nice.
    • That’s so sad.
    • That’s interesting.


    Practice the information in this lesson so you do not forget it.

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