English tenses

Simple present (to be)

The simple present of the verb to be

This page will present the simple present of the verb to be:

  • its form
  • and its use

The verb to be

The verb to be is the most important verb in the English language. It is difficult to use because it is an irregular verb in almost all of its forms.  In the simple present tense, to be is conjugated as follows:

Affirmative forms of the verb to be

Subject Pronouns Full Form Contracted Form
I am 'm
you are 're
he/she/it is 's
we are 're
you are 're
they are 're

Interrogative forms of the verb to be:

Am I?
Are you?
Is he/she/it?
Are we?
Are you?
Are they?

Negative Forms of the verb to be:

Subject Pronouns Full Form Contracted Form
I am not 'm not
you are not aren't
he/she/it is not isn't
we are not aren't
you are not aren't
they are not aren't


  • Is Brad Pitt French?
  • No, he isn't. He's American.
  • What about Angelina Joli? Is she American, too?
  • Yes, she is. She is American.
  • Are brad Pitt and Angelina Joli French?
  • No, They aren't. They are American.

Use of the simple present of to be

The principal use of the simple present is to refer to an action or event that takes place habitually, but with the verb "to be" the simple present tense also refers to a present or general state, whether temporary, permanent or habitual.

  • am happy.
  • She is helpful.

The verb to be in the simple present can be also used to refer to something that is true at the present moment.

  • She is 20 years old.
  • He is a student.


  • I, you, he, she, it, you, they are subject pronouns (also called personal pronouns, a term used to include both subject and object pronouns.)
  • am, are, is are forms of the verb to be in the simple present.
  • 'm, 're, 's are short (contracted) forms of  am, are, is
  • 'm not, aren't, isn't are short (contracted forms) of am not, are not, is not.
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