Main definitions of be in English

: be1Be2BE3

be1

auxiliary verb

  • 1Used with a present participle to form continuous tenses.

    ‘they are coming’
    ‘he had been reading’
    ‘she will be waiting’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She'd been standing waiting for him, the barest hint of a smile on her face.’
    • ‘We were all waiting for the war to end in order to get the money together to get away.’
    • ‘Police in Florida said investigations into the cause of the crash were continuing.’
    • ‘My mother told me I must have been doing something wrong to make them bully me.’
    • ‘The boys were all sitting in the backstage area talking and having a great time.’
    • ‘When we were hosting events like a Valentine's bash, we had to ask guests to wear thermals.’
    • ‘The group were staying at an apartment block when the accident happened on the day they arrived.’
    • ‘Mrs Jones was on her own in her flat that night as her children were staying at her mother's house.’
    • ‘I was trying to stay calm and hit good shots, trying to hit it straight every time.’
    • ‘Someone had elected to stay sober and was driving us back to Acton where we were living then.’
    • ‘Kingston police attended the scene and are investigating the cause of the accident.’
    • ‘It seems rude not to turn up, especially if only a few people are attending and your absence will be noted.’
    • ‘Seven fuel cheats were counting the cost of trying to do their driving on the cheap.’
    • ‘I can confirm that we are looking at our costs and considering staff restructuring.’
    • ‘He could hardly claim that he was deferring the cost of expensive medical research.’
    • ‘Given they are investing large amounts of money, of course they have every right to be.’
    • ‘Before the big strike, her brother had been earning what amounted to a double salary.’
  • 2Used with a past participle to form the passive voice.

    ‘it was done’
    ‘it is said’
    ‘his book will be published’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Touchingly, he drank out of a pint glass that must once have been nicked from an English pub.’
    • ‘An initiative for new and existing sports coaches is being launched by Bolton Council.’
    • ‘They will feel a bit sticky, but once they have been dipped in flour they will be easier to handle.’
    • ‘Other district events were organised to help send Robyn for treatment in America.’
    • ‘To mark the event children were sponsored to learn spellings and tested on their efforts.’
    • ‘Tapes used by the news media to document the events were damaged or even erased.’
    • ‘The brochure advertising events across the borough was delivered to homes last week.’
    • ‘Miss Frith said she was approached about the event and that she did not hesitate to get involved.’
    • ‘As for the floor of the theatre, the large open space was occupied by a small crowd of people.’
    • ‘The women were attacked within the space of two hours early on Friday, half a mile apart.’
    • ‘One of the students was punched and kicked to the ground and the other was stabbed twice in the chest.’
    • ‘She was grabbed from behind and when she refused to let go of her bag was punched twice in the face.’
    • ‘The three were sentenced for their role in the operation at Maidstone Crown Court.’
    • ‘He later agreed to take part in an identity parade and was picked out by the girl.’
    • ‘The group were accompanied by two representatives of the charity and a Cuban guide.’
    • ‘My representative was warned that he would be removed from the Hearing on two occasions.’
    • ‘Roads into and out of Albert Square were closed for the duration of the rally.’
  • 3with 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 win’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The same year he met the girl who was to become his wife and decided to stay on and look for a job.’
    • ‘Now fire chiefs in the county are to meet and discuss their concerns about the worrying trend.’
    • ‘Local people are to pass on their parenting know-how to help other mums and dads.’
    • ‘The general had no idea a Georgian major was to meet with him, nor would he ever meet the major.’
    • ‘She opened a family grocery that grew and prospered in the years that were to follow.’
    • ‘Mrs. Bache was given a first and final written warning which was to remain on her file for two years.’
    • ‘Then all that remained was to persuade the archbishop of Canterbury to anoint him.’
    • ‘In fact Delsarte was to remain on the staff at Nancy for the rest of his career.’
    • ‘He was to remain a friend of Dee's throughout his life and undertook joint work with him.’
    • ‘Guido was to remain in hospital for five days, as four wounds in one leg were treated.’
    • ‘Thousands more merchant seafarers were to lose their lives on the convoys that followed.’
    • ‘Those who followed the instructions and reported their results were to receive prizes.’
    • ‘More horrors were to follow when I visited the toilet and walked into the ladies.’
    • ‘Her son and his fiancee were to be married at the end of May.’
    • ‘The same plane was to be used for a noon flight from Manchester to Washington on Saturday.’
    • ‘Leaflets outlining the scheme are to be delivered to homes in the immediate area in the coming weeks.’
    • ‘Bradford firms are to be made aware of the benefits of employing a diverse workforce at a seminar in the city.’
    1. 3.1Used to express obligation or necessity.
      ‘you are to follow these orders’
      ‘they said I was to remain on board’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘However, in all situations you are to use no more force than absolutely necessary.’
      • ‘The coupons had values on them which were to be given to the bar staff in exchange for alcohol.’
      • ‘She had treated me with contempt, and the only way to cope with my feelings was to be hateful towards her.’
      • ‘I was brought up in an environment where money was to be used rather than hoarded.’
    2. 3.2Used to express possibility.
      ‘these snakes are to be found in North America’
      ‘she was nowhere to be seen’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The gunman was nowhere to be seen.’
    3. 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 mad’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If I was to meet someone myself then that would be fine but this way I have the back up.’
      • ‘If they were to follow the guidelines and correctly fill the bins this wouldn't be a problem.’
      • ‘So I wouldn't be that upset if smoking were to be banned in restaurants and bars.’
      • ‘If the licence fee were to go, and a voluntary subscription were to be introduced, who would pay?’
      • ‘If this were to be implemented, it would strike fundamental blows to British science.’
      • ‘If it were to go ahead it would have to be ratified by the Secretary of State.’
      • ‘What if you were to be swayed by the promise of, say, sexual favours or a Busted album, or summat?’
      • ‘If this were to be carried out for all councillors, then our council chambers would be empty.’
      • ‘Imagine, if you will, what would happen if the concept were to be transferred to racing.’
      • ‘He says it would be the ultimate irony if the home of a man devoted to conserving York were to be pulled down.’
      • ‘There'd have to be some serious changes around here if I were to go on for that length of time.’
      • ‘There is a lot to be said about the violation of this freedom if a ban were to be imposed.’
      • ‘Early on Sunday, they declared it would be a miracle if anyone else were to be found alive.’
      • ‘If we were to be castaways on a desert island, these are the goods we would pack by the caseload.’
      • ‘If there was to be an area for smokers then many younger students would take advantage of this.’
      • ‘If there were an easy answer, better brains than mine would surely have found it by now.’
  • 4archaic Used with the past participle of intransitive verbs to form perfect tenses.

    ‘I am returned’

Usage

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

Pronunciation

be

/biː/

Main definitions of Be in English

: be1Be2BE3

Be2

  • The chemical element beryllium.

Main definitions of BE in English

: be1Be2BE3

BE3

abbreviation

  • 1Bachelor of Education.

    come from, be from, be a native of, have been born in, originate in, have one's roots in
    View synonyms
  • 2Bachelor of Engineering.

  • 3Bill of exchange.