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Uses of the verb To-Be

Uses of the verb To-Be

The verb ‘To be’ has a special importance in the English language, due to its intense and multifaceted use. It corresponds to the Spanish verbs “ser” and “estar” and serves us both to refer to a person, and to what that person is doing.

As an ordinary verb, it serves to express age, height, measure, weight, shape, and color; to express feelings (equivalent to the verb “to have”) and to talk about the weather.

As an auxiliary verb, it serves to form progressive times (I’m studying = Estoy estudiando); is used to form the passive voice (English is spoken here = Aqui se habla Inglés); to give orders impersonally or to communicate plans, when using “Be + infinitive”; and as a way to express future “Be + going”, as in this case: I am going to do it = Voy a hacerlo.

It is one of the most commonly used verbs in the English language, and its mastery provides a firm foundation for supporting a systematic and efficient learning process.

With practice, and according to the context of the sentence, it is easy to differentiate whether the verb is being used as “ser” or “estar.” Let’s learn the practical and useful verb “To-be”:


I am English / Soy americano.
I am in the United States / Estoy en Estados Unidos.

TENER (To express age)
John is 20 years old / Juan tiene 20 años
I am 21 years old / Yo tengo 21 años
How old are you? / ¿Cuántos años tienes?

TENER (To express feelings)
Are you thirsty? / ¿Tienes sed?
He is hungryTiene hambre

HACER (To talk about weather)
It’s windy / Hace viento
It’s cold / Hace frío

GIVE ORDERS: Used to give orders or instructions and to establish a plan.He is to stay hereÉl debe quedarse aquí.
She is to be married in December / Ella va a casarse en Diciembre

FUTURE FORM. To be + going to expresses a form of future (go to…, be about to…, intend to…, etc.)
We are going to the theater tonight / Vamos al teatro esta noche
I am going to travel to Europe next yearTengo la intención de viajar a Europa el próximo año.


Indicative Present


I am (I’m)I am not (I’m not)Am I?
soy, estoyno soy, no estoy¿soy yo?, ¿estoy yo?
You are (you’re)You are not (you’re not)Are you?
eres, estásno eres, no estás¿eres tú?, ¿estás tú?
He is (he’s)He is not (he’s not)Is he?
él es, estáél no es, no está¿es él?, ¿está él?
We are (we’re)We are not (we’re not)Are we?
somos, estamosno somos, no estamos¿somos?, ¿estamos?
You are (you’re)You are not (you’re not)Are you?
sois, estáisno sois, no estáis¿sois?, ¿estáis?
They are (they’re)They are not (they’re not)Are they?
ellos son, estánellos no son, no están¿son, están ellos?


Preterite (corresponds to the past tense indefinite and preterite imperfect Spanish)


I wasI was not (I wasn’t)Was I?
fui, era / estuve, estabano fui, no era / no estuve, no estaba¿fui?, ¿era? / ¿estuve?, ¿estaba?
You wereYou were not (you weren’t)Were you?
fuiste, eras / estuviste, estabasno fuiste, no eras / no estuviste, no estabas¿fuiste?, ¿eras? / ¿estuviste?, ¿estabas?
He wasHe was not (he wasn’t)Was he?
fue, era / estuvo, estabano fue, no era / no estuvo, no estaba¿fue?, ¿era? / ¿estuvo? ¿estaba?
We wereWe were not (we weren’t)Were we?
fuimos, éramos, / estuvimos, estábamosno fuimos, no éramos, / no estuvimos, no estábamos¿fuimos?, ¿éramos? / ¿estuvimos?, estábamos
You wereYou were not (you weren’t)Were you?
fuisteis, erais, / estuvisteis, estabaisno fuisteis, no erais / no estuvisteis, no estabais¿fuisteis?, ¿erais?, /  ¿estuvisteis?, ¿estabais?
They wereThey were not (they weren’t)Were they?
fueron, eran / estuvieron, estabanno fueron, no eran / no estuvieron, no estaban¿fueron?, ¿eran? / ¿estuvieron?, ¿estaban?

As can be seen, the verb To-be is extremely useful and, like other aspects of the English language, admits a relatively small number of conjugations, if compared to Spanish.

In Borealis Language Academy we pay special attention to the use of the verb “To-be” because of the enormous utility, it has in the English language, and if you are looking for a language school in Charlotte, Monroe or Gastonia, we are your best choice.

Contact us, and we will evaluate you in order to define the level of knowledge of each student, to place you in the level that is most favorable to you. It will be a pleasure to help you!

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