Verb forms of ‘to be’ in the present simple

(Formation and conjugation of ‘to be’ in the present simple)

Formation of ‘to be’ in the present simple

In the present simple tense, the verb ‘to be’ is a special verb as it is conjugated in an irregular way. It has three distinct forms and can be employed as an auxiliary verbAuxiliary verb or as a main verbMain verb. When it is used as an auxiliary verb, it serves to form other tenses, which are listed below. This means in detail:

  1. The verb ‘to be’ can either be used as a main verb, which means that it can appear as the only verb in the sentence:
    • “I’m Italian.”
    • “Both Sandra and her sister are good piano players.”
    • “The house is very expensive.”
  2. Or it can also be utilized as an auxiliary verb. In this case, it is part of the present progressive together with another main verb, or it helps to create a passive structure (passive voicePassive voice). The verb forms as auxiliary verb do not differ from the ones used as a full/main verb:
    • “I am eating at the moment.”
      • present progressive
    • “We are waiting for the bus.”
      • present progressive
    • “All the homework is done.”
      • passive voice
  3. Attention: Although ‘to be’ can be used as auxiliary as well as main verb (am, is, are), the conjugated forms do not differ. For comparison take a look at the following tables that demonstrate all the possible verb forms:

Verb forms of ‘to be’ as part of the present progressive (as auxiliary verb)

The tables show the verb forms of ‘to be’ when it is used as an auxiliary verb in combination with the main verbs ‘sit, read, talk, speak, run, eat’:

Positive/affirmative sentences

Pronoun Regular form Short form Interrogative form Short question
I I am sitting. I’m sitting. Am I sitting?
he/she/it She is reading. She’s reading. Is she reading?
we/you/they They are talking. They’re talking. Are they talking?

Negative sentences

Pronoun Regular form Short form Interrogative form Short question
I I am not speaking. I’m not speaking. Am I not speaking? Aren’t* I speaking?
he/she/it He is not running. He’s not / he isn’t running. Is he not running? Isn’t he running?
we/you/they We are not eating. We’re not / we aren’t eating. Are we not eating? Aren’t we eating?

*Attention: This is an exception. For the 1st person singular ‘aren’t’ is used as short form.

Verb forms of ‘to be’ in the simple present (as main verb)

These tables show the conjugated forms of ‘to be’ as main verb:

Positive/affirmative sentences

Pronoun Regular form Short form Interrogative form Short question
I I am hungry. I’m hungry. Am I hungry?
he/she/it She is hungry. She’s hungry. Is she hungry?
we/you/they They are hungry. They’re hungry. Are they hungry?

Negative sentences

Pronoun Regular form Short form Interrogative form Short question
I I am not hungry. I’m not hungry. Am I not hungry? Aren’t* I hungry?
he/she/it He is not hungry. He’s not / he isn’t hungry. Is he not hungry? Isn’t he hungry?
we/you/they We are not hungry. We’re not / we aren’t hungry. Are we not hungry? Aren’t we hungry?

*Attention: This is an exception. For the 1st person singular ‘aren’t’ is used as short form.

Explanations relating to the ‘Formation of ‘to be’ in the present simple’

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