Forms of ‘to be’ in all tenses

(Overview of the auxiliary and main verb ‘to be’ in all tenses)

Table of contents – conjugation of ‘to be’

On this page you will find the following:

  1. General information
  2. Verb forms in the tenses
    1. Present tense forms
    2. Past tense forms
    3. Future tense forms
  3. Infinitives and imperatives

Particularities of the verb forms

  1. to be’ can be an auxiliary verb and lexical (main) verb.
  2. It has more forms in the present and past than all other verbs.
  3. When ‘to be’ appears as the main verb, it requires ‘to have’ as an auxiliary verb in the perfect tenses (example: “I have been).

Forms of the irregular verb ‘to be’ in all tenses

to be’ is one of the most common and most difficult verbs, so all its verb forms in all tenses are listed here. The tables also highlight the particular forms that differ from the repeating ones. For clarification, the grammatical persons are presented as follows:

Number Person
Singular 1 I
2 you
3 he, she, it
Plural 1 we
2 you
3 they

Forms in the present

Tense Person and subject Simple Progressive/continuous
Present 1 I
2 you
3 he, she, it
1 we
2 you
3 they
am
are
is
are
are
are
am being
are being
is being
are being
are being
are being
Present perfect 1 I
2 you
3 he, she, it
1 we
2 you
3 they
have been
have been
has been
have been
have been
have been
(have been being)
(have been being)
(has been being)
(have been being)
(have been being)
(have been being)
  • Information: Negations are solely formed with ‘not’ placed after the form of ‘to be’. This method contrasts with the rule of ‘don’t/doesn’t’, which applies to all other verbs except the modals.
  • Grammatically, these forms would be possible; however, they sound very unnatural and are usually not used.

Forms in the past

Tense Person and subject Simple Progressive/continuous
Past 1 I
2 you
3 he, she, it
1 we
2 you
3 they
was
were
was
were
were
were
was being
were being
was being
were being
were being
were being
Past perfect 1 I
2 you
3 he, she, it
1 we
2 you
3 they
had been (had been being)
  • Information: Negations are solely formed with ‘not’ placed after the form of ‘to be’. This method contrasts with the rule of ‘didn’t’, which applies to all other verbs except the modals.

Forms in the future

Tense Person and subject Simple Progressive/continuous
Future (will) 1 I
2 you
3 he, she, it
1 we
2 you
3 they
will be will be being
Future (going to) 1 I
2 you
3 he, she, it
1 we
2 you
3 they
am going to be
are going to be
is going to be
are going to be
are going to be
are going to be
am going to be being
are going to be being
is going to be being
are going to be being
are going to be being
are going to be being
Future perfect 1 I
2 you
3 he, she, it
1 we
2 you
3 they
will have been (will have been being)

Infinitives and imperatives of ‘to be’

The imperative expresses commands and exists only in the 2nd person singular and plural, with its forms agreeing. Note that the negated (negative) imperative is formed with ‘don’t’, which is not the case with the other tenses above:

Person and subject Imperative (affirmative) Imperative (negated)
2 you
2 you
be
be
don’t be
don’t be

The infinitive is the base form and, like the participles, can appear in different aspects:

Verb form (aspect) Infinitive Present participle Past participle
Simple to be being been
Progressive to be being
Perfect to have been having been
(perfect participle)
Perfect progressive (to have been being) (having been being)