Fill in the blanks with the correct form of the verb to be.
The verb to be
in the affirmative:
In speech, contractions are normally used. You only have to drop the vowel and add an apostrophe ('), as shown below:
He __________ a barman.
They __________ very polite people.
We __________ in Londow now.
My sister __________ taller than you.
You __________ my best friend.
2. In the negative, we place not after the verb:
I am not
you are not
he is not
she is not
it is not
we are not
you are not
they are not
There are also contracted forms:
you aren't/you're not
he isn't/he's not
she isn't/she's not
it isn't/it's not
we aren't/we're not
you aren't/you're not
they aren't/they're not
a Mary __________ (not) a pretty girl, but she __________ very nice.
b It __________ (not) big.
c She __________ (not) from Barcelona.
d They __________ (not) ill in bed.
e I __________ (not) tired. I want to go on.
3. In the interrogative, we place the verb before the subject:
a __________ you on holiday now?
b __________ he at the bank?
c __________ we financially ruined?
d __________ she your girl-friend?
e __________ I a good cook or not?
A negative and interrogative sentence is also possible:
am I not?
(informal)/are you not?
isn't he?/is he not?
isn't she?/is she not?
isn't it?/is it not?
aren't we?/are we not?
aren't you?/are you not?
aren't they/are they not?
__________ (not) they coming to see you?
__________ (not) he your brother?
__________ (not) this book yours?
__________ (not) you going to
tell me your secret?
__________ (not) I invited?
5. Revision exercise.
She __________ (not) in hospital. She __________ at home now.
"__________ you feeling unwell?"
"No, I __________ (not)."
"__________ he homesick?"
"Yes, he __________
"How __________ your soup?"
"It __________ delicious, thanks!"
"__________ you busy now?"
"No, I __________ (not)."
"__________ they in"
"No, they went out a moment ago"
I __________ afraid she __________ out. Could you ring back later?
This __________ a non-smoking area. So put out your cigarette.
He __________ a very good dancer.
"__________ we really going to stay here till dawn?"
"Yes, I __________ afraid so. We can't go now!"
"Tom and Margaret __________ getting married in May. Didn't you know?"
"No, I didn't."
"Why __________ your mother so cross with you?"
"Because I've left my room in a complete mess."
__________ (not) you going to buy that house? It __________ a real bargain!
Our new boss __________ a dear. He __________ always trying to help us.
The Catalan runner __________ in the lead now! Unbelievable!
I __________ (not) going to follow your advice any more. I've lost a fortune because of it.
They __________ (not) to blame for it. It __________ your own fault.
"__________ (not) you going to take me to the opera tonight?"
"I can't, darling!"
"But you promised."
"I __________ very sorry. We can go tomorrow if you like."
"Where __________ the children?"
"They __________ playing in the garden."
"Who __________ it?"
"It __________ me, darling."
__________ (not) he at school? It __________ the second time he has played truant this week!
My father __________ an avid reader of Ernest Hemingway. He loves The Old Man and the Sea
"__________ we in danger here?"
"Yes, we __________."
They __________ always poking their noses into my affairs. I __________ sick and tired of it.
She __________ in prison for theft.
My little daughter __________ doing her homework now. She __________ very hard-working.
6. The past forms of the verb to be in the affirmative are as follows:
a They __________ very friendly people.
b She __________ on cloud nine when he asked her to marry him.
c I __________ frustrated when they rejected my book.
d We __________ very happy there.
e You __________ an idiot to let them in, as you knew they would cause us a lot of trouble.
7. In the negative, we put not after the verb:
I was not
you were not
he was not
she was not
it was not
we were not
you were not
they were not
There are also contracted forms:
a Don't blame me for it. It __________ (not) my fault.
b He __________ (not) at the party.
c We __________ (not) very glad to see them there.
d I __________ (not) very well yesterday. I had a headache.
e She __________ (not) very polite to the Adams last night.
8. In the interrogative, we place the verb before the subject:
a __________ they having dinner when you got there?
b __________ you really going to tell them?
c __________ he angry?
d __________ she up when you went to visit her?
e __________ I to be trusted?
9. A negative interrogative sentence is also possible:
wasn't I? (colloquial)/was I not? (formal)
weren't you?/were you not?
wasn't he?/was he not?
wasn't she?/was she not?
wasn't it?/was it not?
weren't we?/were we not?
weren't you?/were you not?
weren't they?/were they not?
a __________ (not) he elected chairman?
b __________ (not) she the person in charge of the whole affair?
c __________ (not) they siblings?
d __________ (not) we going to your mother's house this afternoon?
e __________ (not) you at the cinema yesterday evening?
Please notice the following:
+ a singular or an uncountable noun (present)
+ a plural noun (present)
+ a singular or an uncountable noun (past)
+ a plural noun (past)
There is a cat. (that is, I can see a cat)
There are two cats.
There was a cat.
There were two cats.
In the negative, we place not
after the verb, and in the interrogative, we place the verb before there
There is not a cat/There isn't a cat/There's not a cat.
Is there a cat?
There are not two cats/There aren't two cats.
Are there two cats?
There was not a cat/There wasn't a cat.
Was there a cat?
There were not two cats/There weren't two cats.
Were there two cats?
There __________ a lot of milk in the fridge yesterday, but today there __________ (not) any.
There __________ lots of people at the funeral yesterday evening.
There __________ an old woman sitting in a rocking chair on the veranda. She was knitting a pullover.
__________ there a lof of traffic last night?
There __________ hundreds of mosquitoes last summer.
11. Revision exercise.
a "My mother __________ a housewife. My father __________ a farmer. What do your parents do?"
"They don't work at the moment. They __________ on the dole."
b They __________ exhausted when they reached the peak.
c They __________ (not) watching TV when we arrived home. They __________ already in bed.
d There __________ somebody at the door. Go and see who it __________.
e After the fire, there __________ nothing left. We had to start again.
f __________ you really going to give them a hand with their work? They don't deserve it.
g __________ (not) they going to come to the party tomorrow? They told me they would.
h He __________ (not) studying now. He __________ playing a football match with some friends.
i "__________ they teachers?"
"Yes, they __________. They teach history."
j "How many apples __________ there?"
"There __________ a lot. We don't have to buy any."
k "Where __________ your aunt going?"
"She __________ going to see the doctor."
"What __________ the matter with her?"
"It __________ her back. She's got a terrible pain in her back."
l "There __________ some tomato sauce in the refrigerator. Would you like some?"
"No, thanks. I don't like tomato sauce."
m My sister and I __________ in the middle of nowhere when we ran out of petrol.
n "When __________ you born?"
"I __________ born a hundred years ago."
o "__________ she a good student when she __________at school?"
"To tell you the truth, I rarely saw her studying."
p "__________ (not) he your father?"
"No, he __________ my uncle."
q "Why __________ you so annoyed?"
"Because my boy-friend has forgotten to phone me once again."
r __________ (not) you upset when you realised what __________ going on?
s He __________ away on holiday for a fortnight. Can I take a message?
t I couldn't speak to her, as she __________ in a meeting with Mr Green.
u "__________ there anything I can do for you?"
"No, I __________ afraid there __________ (not)."
v "There __________ no way out. We __________ trapped."
"Oh, dear! What __________ we going to do now?"
w He __________ in love with the girl next door. They want to live together in the near future.
x "We __________ taken prisoners!"
"What did you do then? __________ you frightened?"
y She __________ (not) there when the building went up in flames.
z Once upon a time, there __________ a princess who __________ looking for a prince to marry, but couldn't find one, since she__________ very evil.
12. Revision exercise. (Transform the following sentences into the negative and the interrogative.)
a There are a lot of trees.
b There's a spider on the table.
c There were many soldiers.
d There was a dictionary on the bedside table.
e He's listening to music.
f They're writing to their parents.
g She's a publican.
h They were overseas last week.
i You're very clever.
j They are very intelligent.
k He's resting now.
l You're a lawyer.
m We are free.
n It's a glow-warm.
o They're brave.
p He is a fool.
q The birds were singing.
r The house was empty.
s The concert was a roaring success.
t There was a fly on the cake.
u He was a good suitor.
v My car is in its last legs.
w His leg was in plaster.
x John and his sister are over there.
y Tim was content with his pay.
z The house was on fire.
is both the gerund and the present participle:
I love being at home.
She enjoys being with her plants. (gerund)
Being a beggar is very hard.
Those sheep are being shorn.
Do not worry about the distinction
between the gerund and the present participle now. Just remember that both are formed with the bare infinitive plus -ing
You're __________ stupid today. What's wrong with you? You're always so nice.
The grass is __________ cut.
I'm looking forward to __________ with you. I miss you so much.
__________ so rich must be great. You can buy anything you want, and you don't have to work.
I hate __________ here.
14. The full infinitive is to be, but at times the infinitive without to is used.
I want to be an actress. (Want + infinitive with "to")
You could be promoted. (Could + infinitive without "to")
Be there tonight, and don't be late. (Imperatives, that is, the subject is not mentioned.)
a I may __________ old, but I'm not stupid.
b He needs __________ with her.
c She wishes __________ given a rise.
d Will you __________ so nice as to wait here?
e Please __________ a good boy. Don't __________ naughty.
15. The past participle is been, and it is preceded by have, has or had.
We have never been to the USA.
There must have been a mistake.
She has been expelled from school.
He had been ill.
It was the first time that they had been there.
a It has __________ raining all day.
b He had never __________ so happy.
c There has __________ an accident.
d She hasn't __________ at home for two days.
e They may have __________ very busy.
16. Revision exercise.
a He had __________ in love with her all his life, but he __________ too shy to tell her. They could have __________ happy together.
b She used __________ very rich, but now she __________ very poor.
c There __________ (not) any garlic. Please go and buy some.
d The car __________ __________ towed to the garage. It needs __________ fixed.
e We avoided __________ told what to do.
f There __________ some flowers on the table. I have just bought them.
g "__________ (not) you aware of the situation?"
"No, I __________. Nobody told me."
h I think she __________ going __________ a very good doctor. Beside, she __________ so charming.
i " How __________ they going there?"
"I don't know. Their car __________ __________ serviced."
j " __________ (not) it lovely?"
"No, it __________ (not). It __________ awful. I don't like it at all."
k He __________ so tired that he fell asleep.
l Do you think I __________ born yesterday? You __________ (not) going to fool me.
m "Have you seen my glasses anywhere?"
"Yes, I have. They __________ on the table."
n Always __________ ready.
o "Waiter! There __________ some flies in my soup?"
"Sorry, sir. They should __________ in the salad."
"I beg your pardon!"
"It __________ a joke, sir."
p You may __________ right, but I __________ (not) going to invite them.
q Stop __________ a nuisance, will you? I __________ trying to concentrate.
r "__________ (not) you at home now?"
"No, I __________ . I __________ shopping for a new computer. The old one __________ broken."
s When we arrived there, the house seemed __________ empty. There __________ (not) any lights on, and everything looked deserted.
t Don't do that again! You could have __________ killed!
u I __________ advised __________ here before dark, and here I __________.
v "What __________ you doing here? You ought not __________ here. This place __________ very dangerous."
"I __________ looking for you. There has __________ a military coup, and we must leave the country immediately. There __________ no time to lose."
w If this becomes known, you will __________ in a very awkward situation, and __________ forced to resign.
x I __________ afraid she __________ out, but will __________ here any minute now. She must have forgotten that you __________ coming. She __________ so forgetful.
y There __________ people who __________ suffering a lot because food __________ scarce.
z Please __________ quiet. This __________ a library.
For further information, see Personal pronouns and possessives
For further information about the "be going to" form, see unit 8
Please note that short answers are not contracted in the affirmative. Have a look at the example below:
Are they your cousins?
Yes, they are.
(You cannot say "Yes, they're", because it is a short answer.)
No, they are not/No, they aren't/No, they're not.
(It is a short answer, but in the negative.)
Yes, they're my cousins/Yes, they are my cousins.
(It is a long answer.)
Click here for additional exercices.