Teaching Basic Verbs – Verb Be

We have already studied the six basic tenses:

Present Simple and Present Progressive

Past Simple and Past Progressive

Future Simple and Future Past.

Before we proceed to the Perfect tenses, we will stop and deal with the three basic verbs: Be, Do and Have.

Knowing and understanding the structure and functions of these verbs will help students understand the basic concepts of the sentence structure.

Let's start with the verb BE.

The verb Be appears as a helping verb in Progressive tenses. As such, it has no meaning alone, but together with the main verb, it indicates when the action takes place.

The children are sleeping.

(Present Progressive – this way we know when the action takes place. The children are sleeping now.

The children were sleeping when I got home.

 (Past Progressive – This way we know when the action took place – when I got home).

The verb Be can also be an independent verb and as such, it means להיות.

He is tall.

She was tired yesterday.

I am afraid we will be late.

It is important to stress the fact that the verb Be has a Present (am, are, is), a Past (was, were) and a Future (will be, would be). The reason why I am mentioning this is that Hebrew speakers often forget the verb Be in the Present since in Hebrew, it disappears in the Present.

הייתי בבית (עבר)

אהיה בבית (עתיד)

אני בבית (הווה)

Verb Be (להיות) has "disappeared"…

It might be a good idea to bring a text that includes many examples of the verb Be as a helping verb in Progressive tenses and as a linking verb verb followed by an adjective (she is nice), a noun phrase (I am a teacher), a place complement (they are at home). Students may be asked to underline examples of the verb Be as a helpIng verb and distinguish between them and the sentences where verb Be is a linking verb.

And that is all so far.

Lea  🙂 

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