TO BE Verbs - Tenses Chart

What are "to be" verbs?

The only "to be" verbs are those in the chart below: am, is, are, was, were, will be, been.

PersonPresentPastPast Participle (used with "have")Future
Iamwashave beenwill be
youarewerehave beenwill be
he/she/itiswashas beenwill be
wearewerehave beenwill be
you (plural)arewerehave beenwill be
theyarewerehave beenwill be

How are "to be" verbs used?

We use them in two ways.

1. As linking verb in simple present with an adjective or a noun (or noun phrase).

For Example:

Jerry and Loyd are very close friends. (noun)
It was such a nice house. (noun)
Steve is afraid of driving. (adjective)
Everyone at school was shocked to see me there. (adjective)


We never use a "to be" verb with another verb in the simple present.

He is agree with you.
"Agree" is a verb so we must say: She agrees with you.

2. As helping verb in one of the continuous tenses (with "ing").

Jackie and I are going to the movie theater.
My cousin is watching TV in his room.
ESL students are studying for their upcoming exam.
I am still working on my term project.


When we use "to be" verbs as helping verb, the main verb must be in progressive tense (-ing form).
Do not say: She is help me finish my project.
Say: She is helping helping me with my project.

With Past Participle:

Use past participle "been" to indicate that whatever you are stating started in the past and continues into the present.

I have been happy since I won the lottery.
She has been responsive at all times.
They have been married for year years

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