Purple Level

Lesson Twenty


be / was or were / been / being

The verb "be" is the most important verb to understand in English because it’s used to make various verb tenses and the passive voice, but it’s also used as a main verb which causes some confusion for students who don’t know the difference between a helping verb and a main verb. It can also be used as a gerund or as an infinitive.

 1. Have you ever been to New York City?

(be = travel; visit. This sentence is in the present perfect tense.)

new york city

 2. The weather will be very nice today.

 Yesterday wasn’t very nice.

yard and sun

 3. She wants to be an Olympic diver when she gets older.

("be" is in the infinitive in this sentence.)

girl on diving board

 4. He’s a police officer.

(The verb "be" is often used when describing occupations.)

police officer

 5. The older boy is being mean to the younger boy.

(This sentence is in the present continuous tense and it describes behavior.)

children playing

 6. She was being too loud on the phone, and when someone told her to be quiet, she got really mad.

angry woman

 7. These tables have been empty all day.


 8. He’s in love with her. She’s in love with him. They’re both in love.

 Being in love is a common human experience.

("Being" is a gerund in the above sentence.)

couple at movie

 9. She is going to be a cat on Halloween. ("going to" future tense)

  Last year she was a ghost. (past tense)

trick or treat
present tense: am / is / are
past tense: was / were
future: will be
present continuous: am / is / are / being
past continuous: was / were being
future continuous: no
present perfect: has / have been
past perfect: had been
future perfect: will have been
present perfect continuous: no
past perfect continuous: no
future perfect continuous: no
modal verbs: ______ be
past tense modal: ______ have been
infinitive: to be
gerund: being
passive: no


take a quiz on the verb "be"

Next: Lesson Twenty-one

the verb "seem"