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Collins Cobuild Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary
  • Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary offers learners of English detailed coverage of today’s language. Written in simple, natural English, this dictionary is exceptionally easy to use and understand. The examples, which have all been taken from the Bank of English®, part of the prestigious Collins Word Web, are invaluable in providing context for words and phrases. The user will also have quick and easy access to grammatical information and additional information on synonyms, pragmatics and frequency. Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner’s English Dictionary - the complete reference tool for learners of English. Bank of English® is a registered trademark of HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

be

  1. [bi, STRONG biː]

    AUXILIARY VERB USES

    am, are, is, being, was, were, been

    (In spoken English, forms of be are often shortened, for example `I am' is shortened to `I'm' and `was not' is shortened to `wasn't'.)

    1. AUX You use be with a present participle to form the continuous tenses of verbs.

      be going to see going

    2. AUX You use be with a past participle to form the passive voice.

    3. AUX You use be with an infinitive to indicate that something is planned to happen, that it will definitely happen, or that it must happen.

      be about to see about

    4. AUX You use be with an infinitive to say or ask what should happen or be done in a particular situation, how it should happen, or who should do it.

    5. AUX You use was and were with an infinitive to talk about something that happened later than the time you are discussing, and was not planned or certain at that time.

    6. AUX You can say that something is to be seen, heard, or found in a particular place to mean that people can see it, hear it, or find it in that place.

  2. [bi, STRONG biː]

    OTHER VERB USES

    am, are, is, being, was, were, been

    (In spoken English, forms of be are often shortened, for example `I am' is shortened to `I'm' and `was not' is shortened to `wasn't'.)

    1. V-LINK You use be to introduce more information about the subject, such as its identity, nature, qualities, or position.

    2. V-LINK You use be, with `it' as the subject, in clauses where you are describing something or giving your judgement of a situation.

    3. V-LINK You use be with the impersonal pronoun `there' in expressions like there is and there are to say that something exists or happens.

    4. V-LINK You use be as a link between a subject and a clause and in certain other clause structures, as shown below.

    5. V-LINK You use be in expressions like the thing is and the point is to introduce a clause in which you make a statement or give your opinion. [SPOKEN]

    6. V-LINK You use be in expressions like to be fair, to be honest, or to be serious to introduce an additional statement or opinion, and to indicate that you are trying to be fair, honest, or serious.

    7. V-LINK The form `be' is used occasionally instead of the normal forms of the present tense, especially after `whether'. [FORMAL]

    8. VERB If something is, it exists. [mainly FORMAL or LITERARY]

    9. V-LINK To be yourself means to behave in the way that is right and natural for you and your personality.

    10. PHRASE: usu v-link PHR If someone or something is, for example, as happy as can be or as quiet as could be, they are extremely happy or extremely quiet.

    11. PHRASE: V inflects, PHR n If you talk about what would happen if it wasn't for someone or something, you mean that they are the only thing that is preventing it from happening.

    12. PHRASE (vagueness) You say `Be that as it may' when you want to move onto another subject or go further with the discussion, without deciding whether what has just been said is right or wrong.

    13. PHRASE: V inflects If you say that you are not yourself, you mean you are not feeling well.

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be1/21
bi, STRONG biːIn spoken English, forms of be are often shortened, for example `I am' is shortened to `I'm' and `was not' is shortened to `wasn't'.

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Word forms

be

verb
Basic forms
Pastwas, were
Present Participle (Participle I)being, *bein'
Past Participle (Participle II)been
Present Simple, Active Voice, Affirmative
I amwe are
you are, *artyou are, *art
he/she/it isthey are
Present Simple, Active Voice, Negative
I *ain'twe aren't
you aren'tyou aren't
he/she/it isn'tthey aren't
Present Continuous, Active Voice, Affirmative
I am being, *bein'we are being, *bein'
you are being, *bein'you are being, *bein'
he/she/it is being, *bein'they are being, *bein'
Present Perfect, Active Voice, Affirmative
I have beenwe have been
you have beenyou have been
he/she/it has beenthey have been
Present Perfect Continuous, Active Voice, Affirmative
I have been being, *bein'we have been being, *bein'
you have been being, *bein'you have been being, *bein'
he/she/it has been being, *bein'they have been being, *bein'
Past Simple, Active Voice, Affirmative
I waswe were
you wereyou were
he/she/it wasthey were
Past Simple, Active Voice, Negative
I wasn'twe weren't
you weren'tyou weren't
he/she/it wasn'tthey weren't
Past Continuous, Active Voice, Affirmative
I was being, *bein'we were being, *bein'
you were being, *bein'you were being, *bein'
he/she/it was being, *bein'they were being, *bein'
Past Perfect, Active Voice, Affirmative
I had beenwe had been
you had beenyou had been
he/she/it had beenthey had been
Past Perfect Continuous, Active Voice, Affirmative
I had been being, *bein'we had been being, *bein'
you had been being, *bein'you had been being, *bein'
he/she/it had been being, *bein'they had been being, *bein'
Future Simple, Active Voice, Affirmative
I shall/will bewe shall/will be
you will beyou will be
he/she/it will bethey will be
Future Continuous, Active Voice, Affirmative
I shall/will be being, *bein'we shall/will be being, *bein'
you will be being, *bein'you will be being, *bein'
he/she/it will be being, *bein'they will be being, *bein'
Future Perfect, Active Voice, Affirmative
I shall/will have beenwe shall/will have been
you will have beenyou will have been
he/she/it will have beenthey will have been
Future Perfect Continuous, Active Voice, Affirmative
I shall/will have been being, *bein'we shall/will have been being, *bein'
you will have been being, *bein'you will have been being, *bein'
he/she/it will have been being, *bein'they will have been being, *bein'
Future Simple in the Past, Active Voice, Affirmative
I should/would bewe should/would be
you would beyou would be
he/she/it would bethey would be
Future Continuous in the Past, Active Voice, Affirmative
I should/would be being, *bein'we should/would be being, *bein'
you would be being, *bein'you would be being, *bein'
he/she/it would be being, *bein'they would be being, *bein'
Future Perfect in the Past, Active Voice, Affirmative
I should/would have beenwe should/would have been
you would have beenyou would have been
he/she/it would have beenthey would have been
Future Perfect Continuous in the Past, Active Voice, Affirmative
I should/would have been being, *bein'we should/would have been being, *bein'
you would have been being, *bein'you would have been being, *bein'
he/she/it would have been being, *bein'they would have been being, *bein'