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Basic English Grammar
Tanggal Terbit: April 17, 2010

WHAT'S WRONG WITH /BE/



In the previous lesson I have already discussed the types of word in English, they are ; Lexical-meaning-word and structural-meaning-word. In this chance, I would like to discuss about types of Infinitives in English Grammar. When you look up your Oxford dictionary which is published and distributed by Oxford University, London - Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English,  by A S Hornby with A P Cowie abd A C Gimson, in Irregular Verbs Page, you'll find that /Be/ or /To Be/ is also called Infinitive (page 1005/Appendix 1). This has made most of Indonesian learners confused. Why?

First, We have known and learnt that There are two types of words; Lexical-meaning-word and Structural-meaning-word.

Second, /Be/ Is included in Structural-meaning-word because we don't get any clear or exact meaning for it. In other discussion (like above), /Be/ is also Infinitive.

Third, Infinitive is devided into two types; To Infinitive and Bare Infinitive.

From the steps identification above, we can make a temporary conclusion that /be/ is a structural-meaning-word as well as an infinitive. The Question is : "Is /be/ Bare infinitive or To infinitive? When we say that /be/ is bare infinitive, /be/ is used in,

For examples:

I am late.
She was so sorry.
Indonesia is a developing country.
Most of people around the world are rich.

In the sentence above, /be/ is bare infinitive. In other chance, /be/ can be as to infinitive.

For examples:

He wants to be a manager someday.
To be a lawyer needs high dedication.
We need to be examined.

That's why oxford dictionary gives attribute /be/ as an infinitive. It doesn't name it Bare or To infinitive. This term is to make the position of be as a general point of discussion. And let learners discuss it further.

If /be/ as an infinitive, what about others, like /go/, /swim/, /tell/, /inform/, /miss/, /come/, etc.
The verbs are also infinitive and they can be as bare infinitive and to infinitive at the same time.

For examples:

1.I never tell him a lie.
2.They want to take a risk.

In sentence one, /tell/ is bare infinitive and, in sentence two, /to take/ is to infinitive. So, there are two types of main verbs in English, they are:

1.Lexical-meaning verb in /speak/, /borrow/, /join/, /let/, /ask/, etc.
2.Structural-meaning verb in /is/, /am/, /are/, /was/, /were/, /be/ and /been/.

For Indonesian learners the sistematical concept of BE makes them dizzy. And, I find the sentence like ; "I am study English" very often. So, What's wrong with the /BE/ ?...... or, Is there something wrong with Indonesian learners? .... or There has been something wrong with the curicullum and the method of teaching?

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