Read about using the verb to be. When you're ready, you can practise using to be with adjectives and nouns.

Using the verb to be

She's a teacher.

In the present, the verb be changes to am, is or are. In the past, it changes to was or were. We often use it with adjectives and nouns.

She is a teacher.
be + noun

She isn't tall.
be + adjective, negative

Why was she late?
be + adjective, question, past

 

More details

When we speak or write informally, we use contractions. This means that amis and are change to 'm's and 're. The negatives (is not and are not) change to isn't and aren't.

am happy. → I'm happy.

He is tired. → He's tired.

They are students. → They're students.

It is not broken.  → It isn't broken.

We were not late.  → We weren't late.

In the past, we only use contractions for negatives.

It was not a joke. → It wasn't a joke.

We were not lost. → We weren't lost.


The verb to be in the present

Positive
 I 'm
You 're
He 's
She 's
It 's
We 're
They 're
Negative
 I 'm not
You aren't
He isn't
She isn't
It isn't
We aren't
They aren't
Question
Am I?
Are you?
Is he?
Is she?
Is it?
Are we?
Are they?
 

The verb to be in the past

Positive
 I was
You were
He was
She was
It was
We were
They were
Negative
 I wasn't
You weren't
He wasn't
She wasn't
It wasn't
We weren't
They weren't
Question
Was I?
Were you?
Was he?
Was she?
Was it?
Were we?
Were they?
 

When you're ready, try these exercises using to be with adjectives and nouns.

Read more about using am/is/are + verb-ing to make the present continuous. You can also read more about using was/were + verb-ing to make the past continuous.