238. INFLECTIONS OF THE
|1. I am
||1. I was
|2. You are
||2. You were
(thou wast, wert)
|3. [He] is
||3. [He] was
|1. I be
||1. I were
|2. You (thou) be
||2. You were
|3. [He] be
||3. [He] were
|Singular and Plural
Remarks on the verb be.
239. This conjugation is
pieced out with three different roots: (1) am, is; (2)
was, were; (3) be.
Instead of the plural are, Old English had
beoth and sind or sindon, same as the German sind.
Are is supposed to have come from the Norse language.
The old indicative third person plural be is
sometimes found in literature, though it is usually a dialect form; for
Where be the sentries who used to salute as the
Royal chariots drove in and out?—Thackeray
Where be the gloomy shades, and desolate
Uses of be.
240. The forms of the verb
be have several uses:—
(1) As principal verbs.
The light that never was on sea and land.—Wordsworth.
(2) As auxiliary verbs, in four ways,—
(a) With verbal forms in -ing (imperfect
participle) to form the definite tenses.
Broadswords are maddening in the rear,—Each
broadsword bright was brandishing like beam of light.—Scott.
(b) With the past participle in -ed,
-en, etc., to form the passive voice.
By solemn vision and bright
His infancy was nurtured.
(c) With past participle of intransitive verbs,
being equivalent to the present perfect and past perfect tenses active; as,
When we are gone
From every object dear to mortal
We drank tea, which was now become an
(d) With the infinitive, to express intention,
obligation, condition, etc.; thus,
It was to have been called the Order of
Ingenuity and cleverness are to be rewarded by
If I were to explain the motion of a body falling
to the ground.—Burke