Be and Being


Let’s first review the verb “to be”.

The verb “to be” is not an action verb. It is what we call a “state of being” verb or a “linking verb”. It is used to describe a condition of existence or a state of existence or a status. It is what we call an irregular verb, and irregular it is!

Infinitive to be
Present tense is/am/are
Past tense was/were
Future tense will be
Past participle been
Present participle being
Imperative mood be


Let’s start out simple: Being can be a noun. We use being to describe a creature that exists as a highly intelligent, evolved, civilized life-form (not an animal). Are you a being of a sort? Yes, you certainly are. As members of the human race, we call ourselves human beings. We normally use this word as a noun in only two cases: When talking about (1) human beings and (2) beings from another planet (only in movies right now but there has to be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe).

  1. The human race is made up of human beings.
  2. I am a human being. You are a human being.
  3. Do you think Earth has ever been visited by beings from another planet?

There is one other common phrase: You can do something “with every fiber of your being.”

  1. He is resisting my efforts with every fiber of his being.
    (He is resisting 100%, using every ounce of energy and strength in his body)

Imperative Mood

Now another simple use. Let’s talk about the imperative form of the verb. This is the verb form that you use when you give a command, order, or strong request. “To be” means “to exist”. “To be quiet” means to exist quietly or in a quiet state or a state of quiet.

  1. Be quiet!
    (I am ordering you to NOT make noise.)
  2. Be still!
    (I am telling you to NOT move.)
  3. Be alert for danger!
    (Be awake, be looking around for danger.)
  4. Be my friend?
    (I am politely requesting you to be my friend; to exist in a condition where you and I are friends.)
  5. Be gone!
    (Go away already! Don’t be here. Be gone to somewhere else.)
  6. Don’t worry! Be happy!
    (I am telling you to laugh, relax, enjoy yourself, forget your worries for a while.)
  7. Don’t be a jerk!
    (Don’t be mean to people for no reason.)
  8. Please don’t be angry at me. I did it for your own good.
  9. Would you ask your son to be quiet, please? He’s disturbing me.
  10. This is a library. We should all be very quiet so others can concentrate on their reading.

Present Participle

Now it gets a little bit more difficult. Being can be a present participle (I think that’s what it is). In this usage, (a) it may be followed by an adjective or a noun and (b) the condition of “being” is happening in the present and is ongoing, temporary, not completed.

  1. He is being mean.
    (adjective -He is acting or behaving in a mean manner. He is existing in a mean state.)
  2. Stop being mean to people for no reason.
  3. He is being quiet for the moment, so don’t talk to him or he’ll start talking for hours. (adjective – He is existing in a quiet state right now, so don’t change anything.)
  4. My boss is being a jerk! He won’t let me take the day off even though we’re idle.
    (He could let me take the day off but he just wants to make me suffer.)
  5. He gave you roses! Why? He is just being him.
    (This is a strange use. He is a romantic guy and being romantic is what he does. It is in his nature. So by acting romantic, which comes natural to him, he is just being the romantic person he has already proven he is. He is acting or behaving like we expect him to act or behave because that behavior is very normal for him.
  6. I’m tired of always being the last in line. I want to go first this time.

When being is used at the beginning of a sentence, it functions as an adjective and always describes the subject:

  1. Being a teacher, he delivered the training expertly.
  2. Being the oldest of the group, he was given first choice.

Your assignment

Write some sentences in your comment using be and being.

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