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Thread: Verb to be

    • Join Date: May 2008
    • Posts: 1

    Verb to be

    Could anyone explain why the term Verb "to be" is used? I find it very confusing that Grammar books refer to Verb to be, only to find it then goes on to describe, am, are, is etc. Never do you see either of the words "to" or "be" ?

    It would be like writing and article on the "correct use of the verbs has/have" only to find it talking about the verbs does and do?

    I'm sure there is something very obvious I'm missing, however this is very confusing to me right now.

    Thank you for your help.

    • Join Date: Nov 2007
    • Posts: 5,409

    Re: Verb to be

    swim, swam, swum, swimming

    the basic verb, the present tense form, is 'to swim' - the verb then changes depending on the tense.

    'to be' is the present tense form of the verb meaning 'to exist' in a personal sense; and to occur or take place. The verb changes depending on the speaker and/or who is referred to, shown by the pronoun.
    I swim
    she/he/it swims
    they swim

    with 'to be', the verb changes are much more obvious, and don't seem at all related to the basic present tense form: (and the verb 'to have' does also change!-just not as much)
    I am (have)
    He/she/it is (has)
    they are (have)

    We still use the stem in such utterances as:
    Leave the dog be! / Let me be!
    I want to be a teacher
    Let me be the first to tell you...
    There are still instances in literature where 'be' is used where modern English has changed. (Some grammarian will be able to add, when these changes occurred.)

    I be going now.
    He be captain of this fine ship, he be.
    They be pirates, young fellow me lad!

    Someone might like to take over, and explain about 'to be' as an auxiliary verb.
    Last edited by David L.; 30-May-2008 at 08:17.

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