English Grammar In Focus
Learning English Grammar As A Foreign Language

date: April 17, 2010

BE AS A NEW SENTENCE BUILDER

Belajar Bahasa Inggris Grammar & Conversation Lengkap
In the previous lesson we have been discussing that /be/ is included in Infinitive; either bare-infinitive or to infinitive. Futher, /be/ has a spesific usage in a sentence building. In other words, we can find tha usage of /be/ in many cases of sentence building. However, most of Indonesian learners get confused to understand the usage of /be/ because the discussion is too complicated and only few can master this uniquee lesson.

In this chance, let me take you to the details of /be/.

1.What is /be/?
2.What is the /be/ for?
3.Resolving the complicated problem.

If we identify the usage of /be/ in many cases of sentences, then we try to classify it according to its characteristic and condition, we will find that /is/ is used together with noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb and phrase as well as with a verb, like the third verb and present participle.

Study this follows!

(1)I am a student.
(2)They are happy.
(3)She is here now.
(4)It is I. (it is me - informal)
(5)He is a young man.
(6)She was punished by her parent.
(7)We are discussing the lesson.

Those sentences are the main case after identifying the usage of /be/ in many sentences found. When we analize its position, combination and structure in one context, we find that /be/ is used in two main sentence, they are:

1.As a verb
2.As an auxilliary.

The two points above is a fixed conclusion. As you know that there are two kinds of sentence in English, they are;

1.Nominal Sentence
2.Verbal sentence

In sentence (1),(2),(3),(4) and (5), be is used in Nominal Sentence. We can say like this because the position of;

- a student,
- happy,
- here now,
- I, and
- a young man,

is in predicate. It is known that When the predicate is a noun, phrase, pronoun, adjective or adverb, the sentence is Nominal.
In sentence (6) and (7). /be/ is used in verbal sentence. We can say like this because the position of;

- punished, and
- discussing

is in predicate. It is known that when the predicate is a verb, the sentence is Verbal.

So, what is the use of /Be/ in sentences?

Based on the definition of a sentence in English, A Sentence must be built by, at least, one subject and one verb. In sentence (1) to (5) the existance of predicate is fixed. In other words, Predicates positions the fixed place behind the /be/. So, It is impossible for us to say;

I happy.

Here, the use of /be/ is as a core element that must be placed between subject and the predicate. Without using the /be/, the sentence is absolutely false and can not be accepted the existance! Therefore, the use of /be/ in those sentences are very important. From this (characteristic of its existance), Be as a real verb because the the predicate in those sentences are not verb! As a conclusion, in those examples; /Be/ is a verb.

When /be/ is not used or omitted, the main elements don't lose away. The position of the subject and the predicate (verb ; /punished/ and /discussing/) is fixed. Let me say that the omission will impact the sentence structure to be the present or past tense form.

Study This follows!

(6) Her parent punished.
(7) We discuss.

It is true that the meaning will be so far away, specially in Passive form (she was punished by ...). However, here, we analize the core elements to build a sentence, not the physical existance of the elements.

From the statement above, we can make conclusion that the sentences (No.6 and 7) can stand alone without using /be/. So, what's the use of /be/ in that sentence?

When the /be/ can be omitted without changing the position of the elements, it doesn't mean that the /be/ doesn't have a use in those cases. Let's discuss it now more seriously!

(6)Her parent punished her.
(7)We discuss the lesson.


Those sentences are in Past(6) and Present(7) Tense. When the /be/ is inserted in those sentences, the changes can not be avoided!

(6)She was Punished by her parent.
(7)We are discussing the lesson.

In other words, the addition of /be/ in those sentences have made the changes of the tense form.

(6)Her parent punished her.(Simple Past Tense)
(7)We discuss the lesson.(Simple Present Tense)


(6)She was Punished by her parent. (Passive Voice in Simple Past)
(7)We are discussing the lesson. (Present Progressive Tense).

Look! the addition of /be/ has created two patterns! In other words, the /be/ has helped the previous sentences to be two new patterns, they are; passive voice and progressive tense.

Because the /be/ inserted in those sentences, the verb in Past form must be changed into the third verb of past participle and the verb in Present form must changed into the present participle!

Now we can make the last conclusion that /be/ is used as :

1.A real verb in Nominal Sentence
2.An auxilliary in building Passive form and progressive tense.

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