be

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English been (to be), from Old English bēon (to be, become), from Proto-Germanic *beuną (to be, exist, come to be, become), from Proto-Indo-European *bʰew- (to grow, become, come into being, appear). Cognate with West Frisian binne (are), Dutch ben (am), Low German bün ("am"), German bin (am), Old English būan (to live, wone). Irregular forms are inherited from the Old English verb wesan.

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

be (highly irregular)

  1. (intransitive, now literary) To exist; to have real existence.
    • 1526, Bible, tr. William Tyndale, Matthew 2:
      Rachel wepynge ffor her chyldren, and wolde nott be comforted because they were not.
    • c. 1600, William Shakespeare, Hamlet:
      To be, or not to be, that is the Question [...].
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, II.12:
      it were great sottishnesse, and apparent false-hood, to say, that that is which is not yet in being, or that already hath ceased from being.
    • 1643, Thomas Browne, Religio Medici, II.2:
      There is surely a peece of Divinity in us, something that was before the Elements, and owes no homage unto the Sun.
    • 2004, Richard Schickel, "Not Just an African Story", Time, 13 Dec 2004:
      The genial hotel manager of the past is no more. Now owner of a trucking concern and living in Belgium, Rusesabagina says the horrors he witnessed in Rwanda "made me a different man."
  2. With there as dummy subject: to exist.
    • 1598, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice:
      Some men there are loue not a gaping Pigge: / Some that are mad, if they behold a Cat: / And others, when the bag-pipe sings i'th nose, / Cannot containe their Vrine for affection.
    • 1817, Jane Austen, Persuasion:
      "There is a sort of domestic enjoyment to be known even in a crowd, and this you had."
    • 2011, Mark Sweney, The Guardian, 6 Jul 2011:
      "There has been lots of commentary on who is staying and who is staying out and this weekend will be the real test," said one senior media buying agency executive who has pulled the advertising for one major client.
  3. (intransitive) To occupy a place.
    The cup is on the table.
  4. (intransitive) To occur, to take place.
    When will the meeting be?
  5. (intransitive, without predicate) elliptical form of "be here", "go to and return from" or similar.
    The postman has been today, but my tickets have still not yet come.
    I have been to Spain many times.
  6. (transitive, copulative) Used to indicate that the subject and object are the same.
    Ignorance is bliss.
  7. (transitive, copulative, mathematics) Used to indicate that the values on either side of an equation are the same.
    3 times 5 is fifteen.
  8. (transitive, copulative) Used to indicate that the subject plays the role of the predicate nominal.
    François Mitterrand was president of France from 1981 to 1995.
  9. (transitive, copulative) Used to connect a noun to an adjective that describes it.
    The sky is blue.
  10. (transitive, copulative) Used to indicate that the subject has the qualities described by a noun or noun phrase.
    The sky is a deep blue today.
  11. (transitive, auxiliary) Used to form the passive voice.
    The dog was drowned by the boy.
    • 1995, C. K. Ogden, Psyche: An Annual General and Linguistic Psychology 1920-1952, C. K. Ogden, ISBN 9780415127790, page 13:
      Study courses of Esperanto and Ido have been broadcast.
  12. (transitive, auxiliary) Used to form the continuous forms of various tenses.
    The woman is walking.
    I shall be writing to you soon.
    We liked to chat while we were eating.
    • 1995, C. K. Ogden, Psyche: An Annual General and Linguistic Psychology 1920-1952, C. K. Ogden, ISBN 9780415127790, page 13:
      In the possibility of radio uses of a constructed language — and such experiments are proving successful — vast sums of money and untold social forces may be involved.
  13. (archaic) Used to form the perfect aspect with certain intransitive verbs, most of which indicate motion. Often still used for "to go"
    • 1606 (Macbeth by William Shakespeare)
      They are not yet come back. (instead of the modern They have not yet come back.)
    • 1850, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, The Blessed Damozel, lines 67-68
      ‘I wish that he were come to me, / For he will come,’ she said.
    • Matthew 28:6 (various translations, from the King James Version of 1611 to Revised Version of 1881):
      He is not here; for he is risen...
    • 1922, A. E. Housman, Last Poems XXV, line 13
      The King with half the East at heel is marched from lands of morning;
  14. (transitive, auxiliary) Used to form future tenses, especially the future periphrastic.
    I am to leave tomorrow.
    I would drive you, were I to obtain a car.
  15. Used to link a subject to a count or measurement.
    This building is three hundred years old.
    It is almost eight.
    I am 75 kilograms.
  16. (With since) used to indicate passage of time since the occurrence of an event.
    It has been three years since my grandmother died. (similar to My grandmother died three years ago, but emphasizes the intervening period)
    It had been six days since his departure, when I received a letter from him.
  17. (often impersonal) Used to indicate weather, air quality, or the like.
    It is hot in Arizona, but it is not usually humid.
    Why is it so dark in here?

Quotations[edit]

Conjugation[edit]

  • The verb be is the most irregular non-defective verb in Standard English. Unlike other verbs, which distinguish at most five forms (as in dodoesdoingdiddone), be distinguishes eight:
    • Be itself is the plain form, used as the infinitive, as the imperative, and as the present subjunctive.
      I want to be a father someday. (infinitive)
      If that be true... (present subjunctive)
      Allow the truth to be heard! (infinitive)
      Please be here by eight o'clock. (imperative)
      The librarian asked that the rare books not be touched. (present subjunctive)
      Be is also used as the present tense indicative form in the alternate, dynamic / lexical conjugation of be:
      What do we do? We be ourselves. Bratz: The Movie (first-person plural present indicative, lexical be)
      but: Who are we? We are human beings. (first-person plural present indicative, copula be)
      It is also an archaic alternative form of the indicative, especially in the plural[1]:
      The powers that be, are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1, Tyndale Bible, 1526)
      We are true men; we are no spies: We be twelve brethren... (Genesis 42:31-2, King James Version, 1611)
      I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in it. (Hamlet, Act V, Scene 1, circa 1600)
    • Am, are, and is are the forms of the present indicative. Am is the first-person singular (used with I); is is the third-person singular (used with he, she, it and other subjects that would be used with does rather than do); and are is both the second-person singular and the plural (used with we, you, they, and any other plural subjects).
      Am I in the right place? (first-person singular present indicative)
      You are even taller than your brother! (second-person singular present indicative)
      Where is the library? (third-person singular present indicative)
      These are the biggest shoes we have. (plural present indicative)
    • Was and were are the forms of the past indicative and past subjunctive (like did). In the past indicative, was is the first– and third-person singular (used with I, as well as with he, she, it and other subjects that would be used with does rather than do), and were is both the second-person singular and the plural (used with we, you, they, and any other plural subjects). In the traditional past subjunctive, were is used with all subjects, though many speakers do not actually distinguish the past subjunctive from the past indicative, and therefore use was with first– and third-person singular subjects even in cases where other speakers would use were.
      I was out of town. (first-person singular past indicative)
      You were the first person here. (second-person singular past indicative)
      The room was dirty. (third-person singular past indicative)
      We were angry at each other. (plural past indicative)
      I wish I were more sure. (first-person singular past subjunctive; was is also possible, though considered less correct)
      If she were here, she would know what to do. (third-person singular past subjunctive; was is also possible, though considered less correct)
    • Being is the gerund and present participle, used in noun-like constructions, in the progressive aspect, and after various verbs (like doing). (It's also used as an actual noun; for those senses, see the entry for being itself.)
      I don't like being here. (gerund)
      All of a sudden, he's being nice to everyone. (present participle in the progressive aspect)
      It won't stop being a problem until someone does something about it. (present participle in the progressive aspect)
    • Been is the past participle, used in the perfect aspect. In Middle English, it was also the infinitive.
      It's been that way for a week and a half.
  • In archaic or obsolete forms of English, with the pronoun thou, the verb be has a few additional forms:
    • When the pronoun thou was in regular use, the forms art, wast, and wert were the corresponding present indicative, past indicative, and past subjunctive, respectively.
    • As thou became less common and more highly marked, a special present-subjunctive form beest developed (replacing the regular present subjunctive form be, still used with all other subjects). Additionally, the form wert, previously a past subjunctive form, came to be used as a past indicative as well.
  • The forms am, is, and are can contract with preceding subjects: I’m (I am), ’s (is), ’re (are). The form are most commonly contracts with personal pronouns (we’re (we are), you’re (you are), they’re (they are)), but contractions with other subjects is possible; the form is contracts quite freely with a variety of subjects. These contracted forms, however, are possible only when there is an explicit, non-preposed complement, and they cannot be stressed; therefore, contraction does not occur in sentences such as the following:
    Who's here? —I am.
    I wonder what it is.
    I don't want to be involved. —But you are involved, regardless.
  • Several of the finite forms of be have special negative forms, containing the suffix -n’t, that can be used instead of adding the adverb not. Specifically, the forms is, are, was, and were have the negative forms isn’t, aren’t, wasn’t, and weren’t. The form be itself does not, even in finite uses, with “not be” being used in the present subjunctive and “do not be” or “don’t be” (or, in dated use, “be not”) being used in the imperative. The form am has the negative forms aren’t, amn’t, and arguably ain’t, but all of these are in restricted use; see their entries for details.
  • Outside of Standard English, there is some variation in usage of some forms; some dialects, for example, use is or ’s throughout the present indicative (supplanting, in whole or in part, am and are), and/or was throughout the past indicative and past subjunctive (supplanting were).

Usage notes[edit]

When used copulatively with a pronoun, traditional grammar puts the pronoun in the nominative case (I, he, she, we, they) rather than the objective case (me, him, her, us, them), regardless of which side of the copula it is placed. For example, "I was the masked man" and "The masked man was I" would both be considered correct, while "The masked man was me" and "Me was the masked man" would both be incorrect. However, most colloquial speech treats the verb be as transitive, in which case the pronoun is used in the objective case if it occurs after the copula: "I was the masked man" but "The masked man was me". This paradigm applies even if the copula is linking two pronouns - "I am her" but "She is me" (versus the traditional "I am she" and "She is I") and "Am I me?" (versus the traditional "Am I I?").

Synonyms[edit]

  • (used to form passive): get

Translations[edit]

Note: This verb has many irregularities in both form and usage in many languages. Use translations with caution.

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

References[edit]

  • be” in The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000.
  • be” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  • "be" in WordNet 2.0, Princeton University, 2003.

Statistics[edit]

Anagrams[edit]


Albanian[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Proto-Albanian *baidā, from Proto-Indo-European *bʰeidʰ- 'persuade' (compare Ancient Greek πείθω (peíthō)).

Noun[edit]

be f (indefinite plural be, definite singular beja, definite plural betë)

  1. oath
  2. vow, swearing
Derived terms[edit]

Amuzgo[edit]

Adjective[edit]

be

  1. red

Balinese[edit]

Noun[edit]

be

  1. fish
  2. meat, fish, tofu, egg (everything that is eaten with rice except vegetables)

Catalan[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Noun[edit]

be f (plural bes)

  1. The Latin letter B (lowercase b).
Derived terms[edit]
Usage notes[edit]

In some dialects of Catalan, the sounds associated with the letter b and the letter v are the same: [β]. In order to differentiate be and ve in those dialects, the letters are often called be alta (high B) and ve baixa (low V).

Etymology 2[edit]

Onomatopoeic from the sound of a lamb.

Noun[edit]

be m (plural bens)

  1. sheep, ram, ewe, lamb; an individual of the species Ovis aries.

Hungarian[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Adverb[edit]

be

  1. in

Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]


Japanese[edit]

Romanization[edit]

be

  1. rōmaji reading of
  2. rōmaji reading of

Latin[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

(indeclinable)

  1. The name of the letter B.

Coordinate terms[edit]

References[edit]

  • Arthur E. Gordon, The Letter Names of the Latin Alphabet (University of California Press, 1973; volume 9 of University of California Publications: Classical Studies), part III: “Summary of the Ancient Evidence”, page 32: "Clearly there is no question or doubt about the names of the vowels A, E, I, O, U. They are simply long A, long E, etc. (ā, ē, ī, ō, ū). Nor is there any uncertainty with respect to the six mutes B, C, D, G, P, T. Their names are bē, cē, dē, gē, pē, tē (each with a long E). Or about H, K, and Q: they are hā, kā, kū—each, again, with a long vowel sound."

Lithuanian[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Preposition[edit]

be (with genitive)

  1. (shows absence of something) without
  2. besides; but, except

Antonyms[edit]


Lojban[edit]

Cmavo[edit]

be

  1. Connects the following sumti to the previous sumti as an internal sumti (subordinate (relative) clause); by default as the x2 argument.
    le klama be la paris.
    the one (who is) going to Paris
    le klama be fo la paris.
    the one (who is) travelling via Paris
    tumxra be la mexikos. zei tcadu
    Map of(i.e., which depicts) Mexico City.
    ti zbasu be lo takybli bei lo kliti
    This makes bricks out of clay.
    ti zbasu lo takybli lo kliti
    This makes bricks out of clay.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The cmavo be'o can be used to indicate the termination of the internal sumti, but is only required if the parsing of the sentence would otherwise be ambiguous.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]


Norwegian Bokmål[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old Norse biðja

Verb[edit]

be (present tense ber, past tense ba or bad, present passive bes, past participle bedt, present participle bedende, imperative be)

  1. To pray.
  2. To ask something of someone.

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

References[edit]

  • “be” in The Bokmål Dictionary / The Nynorsk Dictionary.
  • be” in The Ordnett Dictionary

Norwegian Nynorsk[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Old Norse biðja

Verb[edit]

be (present tense ber or bed or beder, past tense bad, past participle bede or bedi or bedd or bedt, present participle bedande, imperative be)

  1. To pray.
  2. To ask something of someone.

Synonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]

References[edit]

  • “be” in The Bokmål Dictionary / The Nynorsk Dictionary.
  • be” in The Ordnett Dictionary

Old Irish[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

  • (2nd sg. pres. subj.): ba

Verb[edit]

be

  1. second-person singular present subjunctive of is
  2. first-person singular future of is
  3. second-person singular future of is

Old Prussian[edit]

Conjunction[edit]

be

  1. and
    wāiklis be mērgā - a boy and a girl

Preposition[edit]

be

  1. without

Polish[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

be n (indeclinable)

  1. The name of the letter B/b.

Adjective[edit]

be (indeclinable, comparative bardziej be, superlative najbardziej be)

  1. (childish) bad, not suitable, not eatable

Interjection[edit]

be

  1. (onomatopoeia) A sound of a sheep

Scots[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Old English bēon.

Verb[edit]

tae be

  1. To be.

Conjugation[edit]

In most dialects:

  • A am (emphatic same, negative amna)
  • ye are (emphatic same, negative arena), thoo art (emphatic same, negative artna) (archaic)
  • he/she/it is (emphatic same, negative isna)
  • we are (emphatic same, negative arena)
  • ye are (emphatic same, negative arena)
  • they are (emphatic same, negative arena)
  • present participle: bein
  • past participle: been
  • past tense: wis (with singular pronouns & plural nouns); wis or wir (with plural pronouns)

In South Scots:

  • present participle: bein
  • past participle: been
  • past tense: wuz or wur (usually used as in English, except with "ee", which can take either)

Slovene[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Probably from the German name of the letter B (pronounced [beː]).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

 m inan (genitive bêja, nominative plural bêji)

  1. The name of the Latin-script letter B/b.

Inflection[edit]

Synonyms[edit]


Spanish[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Noun[edit]

be f (plural bes)

  1. Name of the letter b.

Etymology 2[edit]

Echoic

Noun[edit]

be m (plural bes)

  1. baa (bleating of a sheep)

Swedish[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From older bedja, from Old Norse biðja, from Proto-Germanic *bidjaną, from Proto-Indo-European *gʷʰedʰ-. Cognate with Danish bede, Icelandic biðja, English bid, Dutch bidden, German bitten.

Pronunciation[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Verb[edit]

be

  1. to ask for, request someone else to do something
  2. to pray
  3. to beg, to plead with someone for help or for a favor

Conjugation[edit]

Related terms[edit]


Tarao[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Noun[edit]

be

  1. bean, beans

References[edit]

  • 2002, Chungkham Yashwanta Singh, Tarao Grammar

Turkish[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

Noun[edit]

be

  1. The name of the Latin-script letter B/b.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Arabic واو (wāw).

Etymology 3[edit]

Noun[edit]

be

  1. Letter of the Arabic alphabet: ب
See also[edit]

Vietnamese[edit]

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (Hà Nội) IPA(key): /ˀɓɛ˧˧/
  • (Huế) IPA(key): /ˀɓɛ˧˧/
  • (Hồ Chí Minh City) IPA(key): /ˀɓɛ˧˥/

Etymology 1[edit]

Noun[edit]

be

  1. wine flask
    Rượu ngon chẳng quản be sành. — Good wine does not mind a terracotta flask.

Etymology 2[edit]

From French beige.

Adjective[edit]

be

  1. beige
    chiếc áo mưa màu be — a beige raincoat

Etymology 3[edit]

Verb[edit]

be

  1. To build a mud embankment with one's hands.
  2. To prop up the lip of a sack while topping off the sack, to ensure a more generous quantity.
    lấy tay be miệng đấu khi đong đỗ — to surround the top of a measure with one's hands while measuring beans
    Đong bình thường, không được be đâu đấy. — Measure it out normally; don't prop up the lip of the sack.

Etymology 4[edit]

Verb[edit]

be

  1. To hug a boundary or riverbank.
    Thuyền be theo bờ sông. — The boat hugged the riverbank.

References[edit]

Hồ Ngọc Đức, "be," Free Vietnamese Dictionary Project (details)