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:
Particularities of the verb forms
- ‘to be’ can be an auxiliary verb and lexical (main) verb.
- It has more forms in the present and past than all other verbs.
- 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:
3 he, she, it
Forms in the present
- 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
- 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
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)|
The infinitive is the base form and, like the participles, appears in different aspects:
|Verb form (aspect)||Infinitive||Present participle||Past participle|
|Progressive||to be being||–||–|
|Perfect||to have been||having been
|Perfect progressive||(to have been being)||(having been being)||–|