be - definition in the American English Dictionary - Cambridge Dictionaries Online

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English definition of “be”

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be

verb  us   /bi/ (present tense am  /æm/ , are  /ɑr/ or is  /ɪz/ , present participle being  /ˈbi·ɪŋ/ , past tense was  /wʌz/ or were  /wɜr/ , past participle been  /bɪn/ )

be verb (RELATIONSHIP)

used to connect two things or a thing with something that it has as a quality or condition: [L] It is cold today. [L] My name is Andy. [L] She is a doctor. [L] How old are you? [L] These books are (= cost) $12.99 each. [L] Please be patient. Be is also used to show the position of a person or thing in space or time: [I always + adv/prep] The food was on the table. [I always + adv/prep] Tony is in trouble again.

be verb (EXIST)

[L] to exist: She apologized for the way things are around here. There was no sound.

be

auxiliary verb  us   /bi/

be auxiliary verb (CONTINUE)

(present tense am  /æm/ , are  /ɑr/ or is  /ɪz/ , present participle being  /ˈbi·ɪŋ/ , past tense was  /wʌz/ or were  /wɜr/ , past participle been  /bɪn/ ) used with the present participle of other verbs to describe actions that are or were continuing: You are being very selfish. She was studying to be a lawyer. It is raining. I’ll be coming back (= I plan to come back).

be auxiliary verb (PASSIVE)

(present tense am  /æm/ , are  /ɑr/ or is  /ɪz/ , present participle being  /ˈbi·ɪŋ/ , past tense was  /wʌz/ or were  /wɜr/ , past participle been  /bɪn/ ) used with the past participle of other verbs to form the passive: He was asked to wait. Please be seated. The World Trade Center was built in the early 1970s.

be auxiliary verb (POSSIBLE CONDITION)

(past tense were  /wər/ or were) used to show the possibility of a condition or of something happening in the future: If I were afraid of you, why would I be here? If you were allowed to have one wish, what would it be? Note: In grammar, this form of be is called the subjunctive.

be auxiliary verb (FUTURE)

(present tense am  /æm/ , are  /ɑr/ or is  /ɪz/ , past tense was  /wʌz/ or were  /wɜr/ ) fml used to say what will happen: [+ to infinitive] The president is to decide this issue very soon.

be auxiliary verb (ALLOW)

(present tense am  /æm/ , are  /ɑr/ or is  /ɪz/ , past tense was  /wʌz/ or were  /wɜr/ ) fml used to tell people they must or should do something: [+ to infinitive] Their mother said they were to play nearby.
(Definition of be from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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