TO BE

1. Linking verb [v-n] there is / are to exist; to be present: Is there a God? Once upon a time there was a princess … I tried phoning but there was no answer. There’s a bank down the road.

2. [V + 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. [V + 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. [V + adv.  / Prep.] To remain in a place: She has been in her room for hours. They’re here till Christmas.

5. [V + 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. [V + adv.  / Prep.] (Only used in the perfect tenses) to visit or call: I’ve never been to Spain. He had been abroad many times. (BrE) Has the postman been yet? (NAmE) has the mailman come yet?

7. [V] “be” from … used to say where sb was born or where their home is: She’s from Italy.

8. Linking verb used when you are naming people or things, describing them or giving more information about them: [v-n] ‘Who is that?’ ‘It’s my brother.’ She’s a great beauty. He wants to be (= become) a pilot when he grows up. [V-adj] It’s beautiful! Life is unfair. He is ten years old. ‘How are you?’ ‘I’m very well, thanks.’ Be quick! [V (that)] The fact is (that) we don’t have enough money. [V –Ing, v to INF] The problem is getting it all done in the time available. The problem is to get it all done in the time available.

9. Linking verb it is / was used when you are describing a situation or saying what you think about it: [v-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. [V-n] It would be a shame if you lost it. It’s going to be a great match.

10. Linking verb it is / was used to talk about time: [v-n] it’s two thirty. [V-adj] It was late at night when we finally arrived.

11. Linking verb [v-n] used to say what sth is made of: Is your jacket real leather?

12. Linking verb [v] “be” mine, yours, etc. | be for me, you, etc. used to say whom sth belongs to or whom it is intended for: The money’s not yours, it’s John’s. This package is for you.

13. Linking verb [v-n] to cost: ‘How much is that dress?’ ‘Eighty dollars.’

14. Linking verb [v-n] to be equal to: Three and three is six. How much is a thousand pounds in euros? London is not England (= do not think that all of England is like London).

15. Linking verb [v-n] be everything, nothing, etc. (to sb) used to say how important sth is to sb: Money isn’t everything (= it is not the only important thing). A thousand dollars is nothing to somebody as rich as he is.

IDIOMS

The be-all and end-all (of sth): (Informal) the most important part, all that matters: Her career is the be-all and end-all of her existence.

As / that was: As sb/sth used to be called: Jill Davis that was (= before her marriage) the Soviet Union, as was

(He, she, etc. has) been and done sth: (BrE, Informal) used to show that you are surprised and annoyed by sth that sb has done: Someone’s been and parked in front of the entrance!

If it wasn’t / weren’t for …: Used to say that sb/sth stopped sb/sth from happening: If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be alive today.

Leave / let sb/sth be: To leave sb/sth 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).

-To-be: (In compounds) future: his bride-to-be, mothers-to-be (= pregnant women)

Auxiliary verb

1. Used 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. Used 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. Used 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 theatre was pulled down, wasn’t it?

4. Used 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. Be to do sth 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. Be to do sth used to say what is arranged to happen: They are to be married in June.

7. Be to do sth used to say what happened later: He was to regret that decision for the rest of his life. (= he did regret it).

8. Be not, never, etc. to be done used to say what could not or did not happen: Anna was nowhere to be found (= we could not find her anywhere). He was never to see his wife 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. If sb / it were to do sth … | were sb / it to do sth … (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?