Unit 4.1

To Be: Auxiliary verb

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Introduction

An auxiliary verb is a helping verb that has no meaning on its own but it gives functional and grammatical meaning to the main verb.

To be as a main verb confirms something about the subject and describes its quality, its state or its identity. {see To be Affirmative, A1 level}

It can also be used as an auxiliary verb. To be as an auxiliary verb is used to form the present, the past, the future continuous and the passive form.

Form

In its present form

We find the verb to be:

  1. Before the past participle, in the passive form {See Passive Structure, B1 level};
  2. Before the verb+ing in the present continuous, and it has three forms:

Affirmative
{See Present Continuous, A1 level }

Negative
{See Present Continuous, A1 level}

Interrogative
{See Present Continuous, A1 level}

In its past form

We find the verb to be:

  1. Before the past participle, in the passive form
  2. Before the verb+ing in the past continuous, and it has three forms:

Affirmative
{see Past Continuous, A2 level}

Negative
{see Past Continuous, A2 level}

Interrogative
{see Past Continuous, A2 level}

In its future form

We find the verb to be:

After the will and before the verb+ing in the future continuous.

{see Future Continuous, A2 level}

Example

  1.  Passive form
    • I am advised to fill up the application now.
    • He is not told to turn right.
    • Were they requested to come earlier?
    • I was ordered to stand outside.
    • We weren’t told what to do. 
  2. Present Continuous, Past Continuous and Future Continuous
    • I am thinking about you. 
    • She wasn’t having a barbecue at her house, because she had no charcoal.
    • Will they be driving to London tonight?
    • We‘re deciding which restaurant to go to. 
    •  You aren’t spelling that correctly.
    • They‘re not catching the correct train. 
    • Am I going in the right direction?
    • Aren’t you singing at the contest tonight?
    • I was gardening when it started to rain, so I had to come inside. 
    • Wasn’t someone crying last night?
    • I will be thinking about you.
    • It’s early, he won’t be sleeping.

Use

We use to be as an auxiliary verb:

  1. To form the passive voice of verbs.
  2. To form present continuous, past continuous and future continuous;

Summary

To be as an auxiliary verb is used to form the present, the past, the future continuous and the passive form.

For example:
— “I am going out for a walk.” (Present Continuous)
— “She was studying all night.” (Past Continuous)
— Won’t he be working?” (Future Continuous)
— “He was given a gift.” (Passive form)

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

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