More definitions of BEDefinition of BE in:
- The US English dictionary
verb (singular present am /am, əm/; are /ɑː, ə/; is /ɪz/; plural present are; 1st and 3rd singular past was /wɒz, wəz/; 2nd singular past and plural past were /wəː, wə/; present subjunctive be; past subjunctive were; present participle being; past participle been /biːn, bɪn/)
- 1 (usually there is/are) Exist: there are no easy answers there once was a man there must be something wrong I think, therefore I amMore example sentences
- Yet he had a habit of asking awkward questions to which there were no easy answers.
- He added that there is a possibility of the museum being housed in the new heritage centre once it is completed.
- There was a form of Hebrew that existed before they were conquered.
- 1.1Be present: there were no curtains around the showers are there any castles in this area?
- 2 [with adverbial] Occur; take place: the exhibition will be in November the opening event is on October 16 that was before the warMore example sentences
- The meeting will be in Washington on Tuesday.
- The party is on Friday and in about half an hour we're going to buy the booze.
- That visit, of course, will be in December.
- 2.1Occupy a position in space: Salvation Street was on his left she was not at the windowMore example sentences
- I made us something to eat while she was in the shower.
- The small bottle of sleeping pills was on the sideboard by the lamp.
- He had been in Richmond to attend a concert held at one of the local community centres.
- 2.2Stay in the same place or condition: he’s a tough customer—let him beMore example sentences
- He's been in his room all day.
- They showed up at about 11:00am, and they were there until 5:00pm that evening.
- They were at the scene for 90 minutes, helping to free the victims and clear the road.
- 2.3Attend: I’m at school doing A levelsMore example sentences
- Don't worry, I'll be there tomorrow.
- She's been to business school, and is now a bookkeeper.
- I am at Oxford University and am struggling to decide whether to consider further studies in the US or at Cambridge.
- 2.4Come; go; visit: he’s from Missouri I have just been to Thailand the doctor’s been twice todayMore example sentences
- I had only been to Italy as a child and Richard had been twice before and he loved it.
- The last three years we've been touring all around Europe and we have even been to Brazil twice.
- They have been there twice before but hope this time they will make it third time lucky.
- 3 [as copular verb] Having the state, quality, identity, nature, role, etc., specified: Amy was 91 the floor was uneven I want to be a teacher father was not well it will be Christmas soon ‘Be careful,’ Mr Carter saidMore example sentences
- Her father was an art teacher and she went to sixth form in the school where he taught.
- His work in this area was considerable, including studies into the nature of history.
- All the incidents were of a violent nature and included attacks by door staff on customers.
- 3.1Cost: the tickets were £25
- 3.3Represent: let A be a square matrix of order nMore example sentences
- If x is the perpendicular distance from the shore to the target, y is the distance from the point on the shore opposite the target to the point at which the dog plunges into the water.
- In the allegory, the Scarecrow is the farmers and the Tin Woodman is the urban working class.
- In this story, the owner of the vineyard is God, the keeper of the vineyard is Jesus, and the tree represents God's children.
- 3.4Signify: we were everything to each otherMore example sentences
- She was the world to him, and his life was not complete without her.
- It was just pennies to me, but it was everything for him.
- A million dollars is nothing to these people.
- 3.5Consist of; constitute: the monastery was several three-storey buildingsMore example sentences
- The house was one large room with a fireplace which served as living room, kitchen and general quarters.
- The temple is a number of buildings surrounding this man-made pool where devotees gather around and bathe themselves to purify and cure of any sickness.
- Her bed was a wooden slat, shared with nine people.
verbBack to top
- 1Used with a present participle to form continuous tenses: they are coming he had been reading she will be waitingMore example sentences
- I have been reading many letters with regards to Gravesend and Dartford and how bad they are.
- I have been reading this newspaper regularly for years and have never written in before.
- A fourth male is believed to have been waiting outside in a white Ford Transit van.
- 2Used with a past participle to form the passive voice: it was done it is said his book will be publishedMore example sentences
- A couple of weeks ago a book was published in America that elaborated on exactly this theme.
- A man with a laugh in his voice recounted how he was shot down, landing in a field in his shirt and tie.
- His voice was drowned by the shattering roar of a jet plane passing over the chimney pot.
- 3 [with infinitive] Used to indicate something that is due or destined to happen: construction is to begin next summer his mum was never to see him winMore example sentences
- I was to meet up with my two travelling companions in an open air restaurant on edge of Timbuctou.
- The two clubs were to meet at Lismore in a match many considered a grand final preview.
- They were to meet in a restaurant and pose as two friends trying to patch up some hard times.
- 3.1Used to express obligation or necessity: you are to follow these orders they said I was to remain on boardMore example sentences
- The rest were to follow in alphabetical order.
- The goods or chattels are to remain in the custody of the bailiffs for twenty days.
- They were to do whatever they felt necessary or advisable to fulfil that function.
- 3.2Used to express possibility: these snakes are to be found in North America she was nowhere to be seenMore example sentences
- She was to be found here too.
- Neither a dialling nor an engaged tone was to be heard, only the sound of a line that had been pulled.
- Monkeys are to be found around the crop growing and savanna areas.
- 3.3Used to hypothesize about something that might happen: if I were to lose if I was to tell you, you’d think I was madMore example sentences
- If I were to order costs, that is a point that counsel could take before the costs judge.
- If I were to keep a reading diary like this, what would my twelve favourite books be?
- If you were to meet me at a party I would not talk about myself in any great depth and I had no intention of doing so on the web.
- As someone or something was previously called: former Sex Pistol John Lydon (Rotten, as was)More example sentences
- He was very friendly and turned out to have gone to the London College of Communication (or London School of Printing, as was) himself, which is always useful when arranging work experience.
- I was in Yugoslavia, as was, at the time.
the be-all and end-all
- • informal A feature of an activity or a way of life that is of greater importance than any other: is food and comfort the be-all and end-all?More example sentences
- A lot of people see speed cameras as the be-all and end-all of traffic management.
- ‘I wanted to show that having a husband and children isn't the be-all and end-all, it's not nirvana either personally or otherwise’.
- I still love acting but it's not the be-all and end-all any more.
- • informal Be doing or trying to do: what are you at there?More example sentences
- ‘So, what are you at now?’ I asked, just for conversation's sake.
- What is he at, opening his bloody mouth in the first place?
- The question is just what are they at now?
- • dialect Leave or set out at once: I’m away to my workMore example sentences
- Anyway, once they were away at last, we began making the space beautiful.
- I'd better be away - packing is so tiring, particularly as I'm not allowed to do it my way.
- Up early tomorrow so that's me away for the night.
- [often in imperative] Go away; leave: be off with you!More example sentences
- I've just had a call to say that things have moved on a bit, so we might be off again tomorrow morning.
- And now be off with you, for I am going to sleep.
- As usual I was keen to be off so we arrived at the bus station with 15 minutes to wait for the bus up to the airport.
- Act naturally, according to one’s character and instincts: I want him to have the confidence to be himselfMore example sentences
- So I just had to be myself, unless the character demanded something outside of my own personality.
- By just being myself I naturally attract the type of people I would otherwise want to attract and repel the people I would otherwise want to repel.
- The result is a satisfying motion picture that wins its audience over because the characters are allowed to be themselves.
been (or been and gone) and——
- British • informal Used to express surprise or annoyance at someone’s actions: they’ve been and carted Mum off to hospitalMore example sentences
- He's only been and gone again - I don't suppose you could get round there and tell him to get back could you?
- Well I've only been and gone and done it!
- I've been and gone and caught another chill
been there, done that
- see there.
be that as it may
- see may1.
- Not feel in one’s usual physical or mental state: I’m not myself this morningMore example sentences
- Funny things were happening to me and I was simply not myself.
- With his head down, he was positively not himself this morning.
- For that matter, you were not yourself yesterday, and you will not be tomorrow.
Old English bēon, an irregular and defective verb, whose full conjugation derives from several originally distinct verbs. The forms am and is are from an Indo-European root shared by Latin sum and est. The forms was and were are from an Indo-European root meaning 'remain'. The forms be and been are from an Indo-European root shared by Latin fui 'I was', fio 'I become', and Greek phuein 'bring forth, cause to grow'. The origin of are is uncertain.
For a discussion of whether it is correct to say that must be he at the door and it is I rather than that must be him at the door and it is me , see personal pronoun (usage).