I would like to know how to use the verb to be and its past participle.

For example:

The rain is gone.

Is is present perfect tense here?

  • Typically "perfect constructions" are those which contain the perfect auxiliary have.
    – user28567
    Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 3:24

2 Answers 2

In modern English, the auxiliary verb for forming the present perfect is always to have.
A typical present perfect clause thus consists of the subject, the auxiliary have/has,
and the past participle (third form) of the main verb. Examples:

  • I have eaten some food.

  • You have gone to school.

  • He has already arrived in Catalonia.

  • He has had child after child... ( The Mask of Anarchy , Percy Shelley)

  • Lovely tales that we have heard or read... ( Endymion (poem) , John Keats)

Early Modern English used both to have and to be as perfect auxiliaries.
Examples of the second can be found in older texts:

  • Madam, the Lady Valeria is come to visit you. (The Tragedy of Coriolanus , Shakespeare)

  • Vext the dim sea: I am become a name... ( Ulysses , Tennyson)

  • Pillars are fallen at thy feet... (Marius amid the Ruins of Carthage, Lydia Maria Child)

  • I am come in sorrow. (Lord Jim, Conrad)

Nope. That is not present perfect tense. What you have there is a simple sentence whose verb "is" is in the present tense.

A present perfect tense follows the format:

has/have + past participle of the verb

eg. She has arrived

You can use the present perfect tense when you want to convey an action completed in the past, or extends to the present:

For example:

I have run 4 miles.

This means that you started running sometime in the past and at the moment you speak, you are 4 miles away from your starting point. You are also conveying that you are still running.

I have studied French

This one means that at some time in the past, you took French courses and finished them.

Also when you want to use the verb "to be" + the past participle, the past participle acts as a predicate adjective. See usage of participles: http://www.slu.edu/colleges/AS/languages/classical/latin/tchmat/grammar/whprax/w23pplex.html

Edited: Thanks to @tchrist for making me remember of an old usage of the word "to be" in present perfect". I am actually not aware of that structure so I did a little googling and it lead me to this video


  • 3
    “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” —Robert Oppenheimer
    – tchrist
    Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 5:25
  • 3
    Oh my God, I almost have forgotten! Your comment reminded me of "Joy to the world the Lord is come". I guess such is an older kind of usage.....
    – gelolopez
    Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 5:28
  • 1
    How do you account for Lincoln's ‘We are met on a great battle-field of that war’? Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 7:22

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