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Now-dialectal use of been as an infinitive of be is either from Middle Englishbeen(“to be”) or an extension of the past participle.
Now-obsolete use of been as a plural present tense (meaning "are") is from Middle Englishbeen, be (present plural of been(“to be”), with the -n leveled in from the past and subjunctive; compare competing forms aren/are).
I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita: Vishnu is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty and, to impress him, he takes on his multi-armed form and says, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.
His origins are become remote as is his destiny and not again in all the world’s turning will there be terrains so wild and barbarous to try whether the stuff of creation may be shaped to man’s will or whether his own heart is not another kind of clay.
"There is a sort of domestic enjoyment to be known even in a crowd, and this you had."
2011 July 6, Mark Sweney, The Guardian:
"There has been lots of commentary on who is staying and who is staying out and this weekend will be the real test," said one senior media buying agency executive who has pulled the advertising for one major client.
Used to indicate that the subject and object are identical or equivalent.
Hi, I’m Jim.
3 times 5 is fifteen.
These four are the ones going to the quarter-finals.
François Mitterrand was president of France from 1981 to 1995.
(with since)Used to indicate passage of time since the occurrence of an event.
It has been three years since my grandmother died. (similar to "My grandmother died three years ago", but emphasizes the intervening period)
It had been six days since his departure, when I received a letter from him.
(rare and regional, chiefly in the past tense)Used to link two noun clauses, the first of which is a day of the week, recurring date, month, or other specific time (on which the event of the main clause took place), and the second of which is a period of time indicating how long ago that day was.
I saw her Monday was a week: I saw her a week ago last Monday (a week before last Monday).
On the morning of Sunday was fortnight before Christmas: on the morning of the Sunday that was two weeks before the Sunday prior to Christmas.
Miss Lardner (whom you have seen at her cousin Biddulph's) saw you at St James's church on Sunday was fortnight.
1770, Historical Memoirs of the Irish Rebellion, in the year 1641 In a letter to Walter Harris, Esq; The fourth edition, with corrections throughout the whole, and large additions, by the author, Ireland, page 186:
And so, without as much as to return home to furnish myself for such a journey, volens, nolens, they prevailed, or rather forced me to come to Dublin to confer with those colonels, and that was the last August was twelvemonth.
1803, Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons, Journals of the House of Commons, page 249:
That they were present at the Election in August was Twelvemonth, at which there was the strictest Scrutiny that ever they saw in their Lives, by all the Four Candidates.
I killed my poor father, Tuesday was a week, for doing the like of that.
1920 (published), St. George Kieran Hyland, A Century of Persecution Under Tudor and Stuart Sovereigns from Contemporary Records, London, Paul, page 402, quoting an earlier document, Loosley volume 5, no. 28, "List of Prisoners: In Sir W. More's handwriting": :
Theobald Green gent dead in the Marshalsea in August was twelvemonth
John Grey gent delivered out of the Marshalsea about August last by Mr. Secretary and remains in St. Mary Overies.
John Jacob gent delivered out of the Marsh. the XVII of May was twelvemonth and sent to Bridewell by order of the Council.
To be, or not to be: that is the question: / Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer / The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, / Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, / And by opposing end them?
This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies!
2004 December 13, Richard Schickel, “Not Just an African Story”, in Time:
The genial hotel manager of the past is no more. Now owner of a trucking concern and living in Belgium, Rusesabagina says the horrors he witnessed in Rwanda "made me a different man."
To remain undisturbed in a certain state or situation.
(in perfect tenses)Elliptical form of "be here", "go to and return from" or similar, also extending to certain other senses of "go".
The postman has been today, but my tickets have still not yet come.
I have been to Spain many times.
We've been about twenty miles.
I have terrible constipation – I haven't been for several days.
They have been through a great deal of trouble.
When used copulatively with a pronoun, traditional grammar puts the pronoun in the subjective case (I, he, she, we, they) rather than the objective case (me, him, her, us, them), regardless of which side of the copula it is placed. For example, “I was the masked man” and “The masked man was I” would both be considered correct, while “The masked man was me” and “Me was the masked man” would both be incorrect. However, most colloquial speech treats the verb be as transitive, in which case the pronoun is used in the objective case if it occurs after the copula: “I was the masked man” but “The masked man was me”. This paradigm applies even if the copula is linking two pronouns; thus “I am her” and “She is me", and “Am I me?” (versus the traditional “I am she”, “She is I”, “Am I I?”). However, the use of whom with a copula is generally considered incorrect and a hypercorrection, though in some cases (especially in sentences involving a to-infinitive or a perfect tense), such as “Whom do you want to be?”, it can come naturally to some speakers; in short, straightforward sentences, such as “Whom are you?”, this is much rarer and likelier to be considered incorrect.
The verb be is the most irregular non-defective verb in Standard English. Unlike other verbs, which distinguish at most five forms (as in do–does–doing–did–done), be distinguishes many more:
Be itself is the plain form, used as the infinitive, as the imperative, and as the present subjunctive (though many speakers do not distinguish the present indicative and present subjunctive, using the indicative forms for both).
I want to be a father someday. (infinitive)
If that be true... (present subjunctive; is is common in this position)
Allow the truth to be heard! (infinitive)
Please be here by eight o’clock. (imperative)
The librarian asked that the rare books not be touched. (present subjunctive; speakers that do not distinguish the subjunctive and indicative would use an auxiliary verb construction here)
Be is also used as the present tense indicative form in the alternative, dynamic / lexical conjugation of be:
What do we do? We be ourselves. (first-person plural present indicative, lexical be)
but: Who are we? We are human beings. (first-person plural present indicative, copula be)
It is also an archaic alternative form of the indicative, especially in the plural:
The powers that be, are ordained of God. (Romans 13:1, Tyndale Bible, 1526)
We are true men; we are no spies: We be twelve brethren... (Genesis 42:31–2, King James Version, 1611)
I think it be thine indeed, for thou liest in it. (Hamlet, Act V, Scene 1, circa 1600 – though this may be viewed as the subjunctive instead)
Am, are, and is are the forms of the present indicative. Am is the first-person singular (used with I); is is the third-person singular (used with he, she, it and other subjects that would be used with does rather than do); and are is both the second-person singular and the plural (used with we, you, they, and any other plural subjects).
Am I in the right place? (first-person singular present indicative)
You are even taller than your brother! (second-person singular present indicative)
Where is the library? (third-person singular present indicative)
These are the biggest shoes we have. (plural present indicative)
Was and were are the forms of the past indicative and past subjunctive (like did). In the past indicative, was is the first- and third-person singular (used with I, as well as with he, she, it and other subjects that would be used with does rather than do), and were is both the second-person singular and the plural (used with we, you, they, and any other plural subjects). In the traditional past subjunctive, were is used with all subjects, though many speakers do not actually distinguish the past subjunctive from the past indicative, and therefore use was with first- and third-person singular subjects even in cases where other speakers would use were.
I was out of town. (first-person singular past indicative)
You were the first person here. (second-person singular past indicative)
The room was dirty. (third-person singular past indicative)
We were angry at each other. (plural past indicative)
I wish I were more sure. (first-person singular past subjunctive; was is also common, though considered less correct by some)
If she were here, she would know what to do. (third-person singular past subjunctive; was is also common, though considered less correct by some)
Being is the gerund and present participle, used in progressive aspectual forms, after various catenative verbs, and in other constructions that function like nouns, adjectivally or adverbially. (It’s also used as a deverbal noun and as a conjunction; see those senses in the entry for being itself.)
Being in London and being in Tokyo have similar rewards but in different languages. (gerund in grammatical subject)
All of a sudden, he’s being nice to everyone. (present participle in progressive aspect)
His mood being good increased his productivity noticeably. (present participle in adjectival phrase)
It won’t stop being a problem until someone does something about it. (gerund after catenative verb)
Been is the past participle, used in the perfect aspect. In Middle English, it was also the infinitive.
It’s been that way for a week and a half.
In archaic or obsolete forms of English, with the pronoun thou, the verb be has a few additional forms:
When the pronoun thou was in regular use, the forms art, wast, and wert were the corresponding present indicative, past indicative, and past subjunctive, respectively.
As thou became less common and more highly marked, a special present-subjunctive form beest developed (replacing the regular present subjunctive form be, still used with all other subjects). Additionally, the form wert, previously a past subjunctive form, came to be used as a past indicative as well.
The forms am, is, and are can contract with preceding subjects: I’m(“I am”), ’s(“is”), ’re(“are”). The form are most commonly contracts with personal pronouns (we’re(“we are”), you’re(“you are”), they’re(“they are”)), but contractions with other subjects are possible; the form is contracts quite freely with a variety of subjects. These contracted forms, however, are possible only when there is an explicit, non-preposed complement, and they cannot be stressed; therefore, the contractions cannot appear at the end of a sentence. Instead one must use the full forms, such as:
Who’s here? —I am.
I wonder what it is.
Several of the finite forms of be have special negative forms, containing the suffix -n’t, that can be used instead of adding the adverb not. Specifically, the forms is, are, was, and were have the negative forms isn’t, aren’t, wasn’t, and weren’t. The form be itself does not, even in finite uses, with “not be” being used in the present subjunctive and “do not be” or “don’t be” (or, in dated use, “be not”) being used in the imperative. The form am has the negative forms aren’t, amn’t, and ain’t, but all of these are in restricted use; see their entries for details.
Outside of Standard English, there is some variation in usage of some forms; some dialects, for example, use is or ’s throughout the present indicative (supplanting, in whole or in part, am and are), and/or was throughout the past indicative and past subjunctive (supplanting were).
^ Schumacher, Stefan; Matzinger, Joachim (2013) Die Verben des Altalbanischen: Belegwörterbuch, Vorgeschichte und Etymologie (Albanische Forschungen; 33) (in German), Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, →ISBN, page 236
In some dialects of Catalan, the sounds associated with the letter b and the letter v are the same: . In order to differentiate be and ve in those dialects, the letters are often called be alta(“high B”) and ve baixa(“low V”).
2020 June 11, Hendrik Heidler, Hendrik Heidler's 400 Seiten: Echtes Erzgebirgisch: Wuu de Hasen Hoosn haaßn un de Hosen Huusn do sei mir drhamm: Das Original Wörterbuch: Ratgeber und Fundgrube der erzgebirgischen Mund- und Lebensart: Erzgebirgisch – Deutsch / Deutsch – Erzgebirgisch, 3. geänderte Auflage edition, Norderstedt: BoD – Books on Demand, →ISBN, →OCLC, page 21:
This term may also be part of the split form of a verb prefixed with be-, occurring when the main verb does not follow the prefix directly. It can be interpreted only with the related verb form, irrespective of its position in the sentence, e.g. meg tudták volna nézni(“they could have seen it”, from megnéz). For verbs with this prefix, see be-; for an overview, Appendix:Hungarian verbal prefixes.
(adverb: “in”):be in Bárczi, Géza and László Országh. A magyar nyelv értelmező szótára (‘The Explanatory Dictionary of the Hungarian Language’, abbr.: ÉrtSz.). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1959–1962. Fifth ed., 1992: →ISBN
(interjection-like adverb: “how…!”; a dated, poetic synonym of de):be in Bárczi, Géza and László Országh. A magyar nyelv értelmező szótára (‘The Explanatory Dictionary of the Hungarian Language’, abbr.: ÉrtSz.). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1959–1962. Fifth ed., 1992: →ISBN
be in Ittzés, Nóra (ed.). A magyar nyelv nagyszótára (‘A Comprehensive Dictionary of the Hungarian Language’). Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 2006–2031 (work in progress; published A–ez as of 2023)
Arthur E. Gordon, The Letter Names of the Latin Alphabet (University of California Press, 1973; volume 9 of University of California Publications: Classical Studies), part III: “Summary of the Ancient Evidence”, page 32: "Clearly there is no question or doubt about the names of the vowels A, E, I, O, U. They are simply long A, long E, etc. (ā, ē, ī, ō, ū). Nor is there any uncertainty with respect to the six mutes B, C, D, G, P, T. Their names are bē, cē, dē, gē, pē, tē (each with a long E). Or about H, K, and Q: they are hā, kā, kū—each, again, with a long vowel sound."
Transcriptions of Mandarin into the Latin script often do not distinguish between the critical tonal differences employed in the Mandarin language, using words such as this one without indication of tone.
1867, “A YOLA ZONG”, in SONGS, ETC. IN THE DIALECT OF FORTH AND BARGY, number 14:
Shoo ya aam zim to doone, as w' be doone nowe;
She gave them some to do, as we are doing now;
Jacob Poole (1867), William Barnes, editor, A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland, London: J. Russell Smith