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Questions tagged [be]

For questions relating to the verb to be.

72
votes
5answers
6k views

Why “the powers that be”?

In the phrase "the powers that be," as in the sentence: It would never have occurred to the powers that be to run and supervise the National Lottery from anywhere but London. (Oxford ...
28
votes
2answers
77k views

Which is correct: “This is her” or “This is she”? [duplicate]

Upon answering the telephone, the person calling asks if Joan is available. If Joan is the person who answered the phone, should she say "This is her" or "This is she"?
27
votes
8answers
113k views

Which one is correct to say: “It's me” or “It's I”?

I was taught at school that the following expression is not grammatically correct: Who is there? It's me. The correct one is: Who is there? It's I. Can you let me know which one is accurate? ...
23
votes
5answers
134k views

“Which one is you?” vs “Which one are you?”

Imagine I'm looking at a photo containing a number of people's faces and I can't tell which one belongs to a certain friend of mine. I could ask him one of two things: "Which one is you?" or "...
20
votes
5answers
6k views

“I think him to be about 50” or “I think he is about 50”?

I have two options. Which one is correct? a) I think him to be about 50. b) I think he is about 50. If both are correct, should I avoid one or the other?
18
votes
2answers
14k views

Agreement in “[Singular Noun] Is/Are [Plural Noun]”?

My fish's native habitat is rice fields. My fish's native habitat are rice fields. Which one is correct? I'm pretty sure it's the first, since 'is' modifies 'habitat,' but it still sounds weird...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

Construction of “woe is me”

The expression “woe is me” (meaning) looks strange. On the surface, it seems to mean “an unhappy event is me”. Sure, it's an old idiom, undoubtedly reflecting vocabulary or grammar that is no longer ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

Can the verb 'be' be modified?

Comments on this question considered whether the verb be could be modified by an adverb. This seems a question worth pursuing in its own right, so may I ask what completely modifies in the following ...
12
votes
3answers
19k views

“That was me” vs. “That was I” [duplicate]

When telling a story about myself from the past, I have found myself in an internal debate over whether the correct way to segue into the present is: That was me twelve years ago. Or: That was ...
8
votes
3answers
6k views

Is it “5–6 weeks are a lot of time” or “5–6 weeks is a lot of time”?

I was just copyediting somebody's answer on another SE site and my native English speaker Sprachgefühl told me I had to correct the grammar of one sentence: ... 5–6 weeks are a lot of time ... by ...
7
votes
6answers
3k views

He must decide who/whom to be. Which is correct?

Which of the following two sentences is correct? He must decide who to be. He must decide whom to be. I can think of arguments for both sides, but I'm not sure. To elaborate, is who(m) the ...
6
votes
1answer
625 views

in 'human being,' is 'being' a gerund?

In phrase "human being," is being a gerund? I'm looking for a form of "be" that is present time, shows action/change/movement and does not require me using "human becoming."
6
votes
5answers
3k views

“Who(m) will it be?” vs. “Will it be he/him?”

The accepted (and highly upvoted) answer to the question in the question What’s the rule for using “who” and “whom” correctly? states that the easiest way to find out whether to use who or whom is to ...
5
votes
3answers
13k views

What's the subject of “There is my biscuit!” ? And how about “There is one biscuit left”?

What's the subject, grammatically speaking, of these sentences? There is my biscuit! My biscuit is there! There is one biscuit left. I don't really know how to analyze these. The following ...
5
votes
5answers
5k views

“This is allowed”, is this passive voice?

This is allowed. Is the verb is a linking verb, or is this passive construction? Is there a difference? How does one tell?
5
votes
1answer
543 views

Is “are” a borrowed word?

I read somewhere that English is the only language to have borrowed a form of its to be verb from another language. I want to say, if memory serves, that it was are that was borrowed from an early ...
5
votes
2answers
317 views

Why does the word “be” change so much?

In the phrase make <someone> {adjective}, it implies changing that person's emotion, but make <someone> be {adjective} implies forcing that person to comply. Why does the word "be", which ...
5
votes
2answers
305 views

she tall, he a teacher, they at school - what will a native speaker undertand? [closed]

everyone! if a say statements like these: she tall, he a teacher, they at school - what will a native speaker undertand? Will 'the time of being' be clear for a native English speaker from these ...
5
votes
1answer
375 views

Uncertain whether pirate talk be authentically or mockingly archaic

@ZhanlongZheng asked the following question on ELL: Barbosa: I defended her mightily enough, but she be sunk nonetheless. Jack Sparrow: If that ship be sunk properly, you should be ...
5
votes
2answers
610 views

There seems to be a subtle difference between the infinitive form of the verb 'to be' after a verb and the inflected form of the same; what is it?

There seems to be a subtle difference between the infinitive form of the verb 'to be' after a verb and the inflected form of the same; what is it? This effect, if there is one, seems most noticeable ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Could “are he” be correct?

I was just trying to formulate a sentence in an email, and wanted to reference a third person, inquiring as to which of something that person was referring in the forwarded mail message. Is it: "...
4
votes
1answer
38k views

Is “is” an auxiliary verb in the sentence “My mum's bag is blue”? [duplicate]

My mum's bag is blue. Is is an auxiliary verb in that sentence? If not, what is it? Is “is” an auxiliary verb in the sentence “John is working now”? was suggested as a possible duplicate, but that ...
4
votes
2answers
740 views

Is dropping the verb “was” an option?

Given the following examples: Yesterday you mentioned thinking it was a good idea to go sailing. Last week you thought it was appropriate to dress like a pirate. Can was be inferred and ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

What's going on in “I have been to the store many times”?

I thought been was the past participle of to be, but it seems to behave like the past participle of to go in this case: I go to the store every Wednesday. I have been/gone to the store many ...
4
votes
2answers
4k views

“would rather” + subject + past subjunctive

What is the difference between: The company would rather each employee be provided with ID card. The company would rather each employee were provided with ID card.
4
votes
5answers
3k views

Is there a rule forbidding the use of “is” at the end of a sentence? [closed]

Is there any justification for using “is” at the end of an English sentence, or is there a rule that forbids this?
4
votes
1answer
60 views

What is the difference between “mean” and “be” in regards to mentioning words?

To be specific, a student of mine wrote the sentence "便所 means stool in Japanese" and that didn't seem right to me. "便所 is stool in Japanese" seemed - again, intuitively - right to me. We had a ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Why do we say “who you were” and not “whom you were”? Isn't it the object of the verb?

I have a grammar which says that "whom" is used when it follow a preposition. E.g: to whom am I speaking. to whom it may concern. The grammar also says that "whom" is the object form of "who". E.g. ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Pronunciation of ‘been’

As a non-native speaker, I often hear the word ‘been’ pronounced as /bɪn/ instead /biːn/ as I expect from the double ‘ee’. The phonetic transcritpion in the MacMillan dictionary is /biːn/ for the ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

What's to do? vs. What's to be done?

In order to ask What should be done? or What should we do? using an infinitival clause, you can readily say What's to be done? or What to do?. (1) What's to do? But I've heard (1) used in the ...
4
votes
3answers
124 views

Is the “be” redundant here?

Is the use of "be" in the following sentence incorrect? "I have never before heard that be said."
4
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3answers
263 views

Why is “to” not appropriate before “be” in this situation?

Consider the following two phrases: It's better to be <X> than <Y>. Why be <X> when you can be <Y>? I recently got in an argument with a friend about if (and why) there ...
4
votes
2answers
42k views

to be + past participle

I wanted to ask a lot of questions concerning this phrase: I always consult with my children who are affected by the decisions to be made. What role does the particle "to" perform in this phrase?...
4
votes
4answers
31k views

“was to be” vs “was to have been”

I have a question He was to be home by now. Does it mean he was supposed to come home either before now or maybe by now? He was to have been home by now. That means he was supposed ...
4
votes
1answer
238 views

“All you'll have to gain IS points” or “All you'll have to gain ARE points”? [closed]

In the following statement, which should be used: is or are? I personally think is, but my boss put are, and I don't want to correct him if I am not correct. Start dining with us. All you'll have ...
3
votes
6answers
298 views

“Electricity has a velocity (that is) as high as light’s (is)”

Electricity has a velocity (that is) as high as light’s. Electricity has a velocity (that is) as high as light’s is. These two sentences both seem to be correct to me, but I am in doubt about ...
3
votes
4answers
5k views

“a patient who is” or “a patient whom is”? [duplicate]

I am still very confused on when to use who and whom, I understand the idea these sentences are correct: He is the person who won the competition. That is the person whom I went on holiday ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

What type of grammar construction is this

She thinks herself able to best him in this argument. She thinks that she is able to best him in this argument. She thinks herself to be able to best him in this argument. Are the first and the ...
3
votes
1answer
79 views

Be we all here?

The passage below is taken from Life's Little Ironies by Thomas Hardy. My question concerns "Now be we all here?". I understand that it means "Now are we all here?". The writer might have left the ...
3
votes
1answer
314 views

Be or Is? That is the question

Whether it 'be' or 'is'? Whether it be comedy, action, or pure narrative, he surgically hones pictures and sound to that perfect place.
3
votes
2answers
323 views

Is “you are yourself” grammatically correct?

I know what "be yourself" means. I usually see people using it in some sentences like "You have to be yourself", "You must be yourself" etc., but I barely see anyone saying "You are yourself". Is ...
3
votes
3answers
997 views

Bob does not know who/whom the thief is. Which is correct? [duplicate]

In the sentence: Bob does not know who/whom the thief is. Should it be who or whom? and why? I don't really understand it in cases like this. I was told to think about them being analogous to him/he ...
3
votes
1answer
844 views

Using (be) as a main verb in this form (be) without using auxiliary verbs, is it correct? [closed]

There's no doubt that "Be happy" and "Don't be sad." are correct, and "They be happy" is incorrect. But is it correct to say: Why don't you be more careful? or "Why don't they be happy?" ? ...
3
votes
2answers
108 views

Some substitutions are more general than others (are). Which is better?

"Some substitutions are more general than others". or "Some substitutions are more general than others are". I am aware of the concept of using the verbs "to do" and "to be" at the end of a phrase ...
3
votes
1answer
430 views

Should “something, and therefore something” be referred to as singular or plural?

For example, if I have the sentence Due to the improvement of our algorithm, our model, and therefore simulation, becomes more realistic. Should the becomes be instead written as become? Does this ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

When to use “not to” or “to not” [duplicate]

Which of these two sets of examples are more correct? Finally, I decided to not go to the party. Finally, I decided not to go to the party. Tell your sister not to worry about the exam. ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Is this sentence correct? “If I were you I would be looking for a new job” [closed]

Was asked to translate this question from italian to english, teacher marked it as wrong but I sometimes see people using this formula (I would be looking for...) so is it correct or not?
3
votes
0answers
99 views

Contraction of 'Am I not'? [duplicate]

To the best of my understanding the correct contraction of "Am I not" is "aren't I". However, growing up in Scotland I very frequently heard an alternative contraction "amn't I". I think this though ...
2
votes
3answers
494 views

Is it acceptable to use “to be” to describe possession?

I recently was explaining a couple of Marathi phrases to my friend, and I realized that the language doesn't have the word "to have". We have multiple different ways of expressing posession, but I ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

“who is entitled” or “whom is entitled”: which is correct? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What's the rule for using "who" or "whom"? Which is correct? A certificate is a statement that states who is entitled. A certificate is a ...