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The sentence below says something that's yet to happen, but the word prepared is in the past tense. Any suggestions on what to read to understand this will highly be appreciated. Thank you.

Always be prepared for the unexpected

I also heard someone in a movie say: "She be presented on her birthday"

closed as off-topic by Hot Licks, user140086, anongoodnurse, jimm101, choster Feb 8 '16 at 22:47

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    The quote you give makes no sense. At the very least it's missing punctuation. – Hot Licks Feb 7 '16 at 23:47
  • Hi, as I commented to your first question, your question seems to be too basic for this community. For future questions, I'd like to advise you to visit our sister site English Language Learners, but please make sure you take the tour and visit their Help Center before posting any question. Please don't post the same question on English Language Learners. – user140086 Feb 8 '16 at 4:51
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Although prepared can be a past tense conjugation of the verb prepare, it can also be made into an imperative (command) by putting "be" before it. This makes it a past participle as an adjective meaning

be ready for something that is likely to happen done or made beforehand

In this case, it's not being used as a past tense verb.

You can see this definition in various dictionaries: the Cambridge English Dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary, even online ones like the free dictionary.

  • Thank @John Clifford, but in most of the examples I see, they use "be" before the adjective. Is that a rule? John Clifford – Sirmee Feb 7 '16 at 23:30
  • Well "be [adjective]" is basically telling the listener that you want them to transition into the state that adjective represents (man it's hard to think of a way to describe this without actually using the word "be"). If I tell you to "be prepared" I want you ready for something to happen (in this case, what you don't expect). – John Clifford Feb 7 '16 at 23:34
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    No it is not a rule; but many adjectives formed from past participles (such as prepared) are more often used predicatively than attributively; that is, it is more common to say that something is/was/will be prepared than to talk about "a prepared thing". For that reason, many (probably most) instances of "prepared" are preceded by a part of "be". – Colin Fine Feb 8 '16 at 1:21
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    "Be prepared" is the imperative of to be + prepared ( past participle as adjective). – rogermue Feb 8 '16 at 5:58
  • I can't believe I forgot what an imperative was. I'll edit. – John Clifford Feb 8 '16 at 8:28

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