When to use "be" in a sentence?



We'll be late!
We'll late!

You'll be so tired in the morning.
You'll so tired in the morning.

It will be very pleasant for you.
It will very pleasant for you.

I'll be all right.
I'll all right.

To what is be pointing, in the above sentences?
Are those sentences correct without be?

adding 4 sentences which doesn't contain will.

You're not big enough to be a soldier

How's it feel to be four, Meggie?

He was supposed to be at the forge all day.

I was brought up from my cradle to be a priest

To what is be pointing, in the above sentences?

Amish Aa

Posted 2013-04-09T09:29:17.633

Reputation: 1 333



Will (or its contracted form ’ll) is an auxiliary verb (your teachers may call this a helping or helper verb) which expresses only future tense; it must be complemented by a lexical verb in the unmarked infinitive form (be), which carries the meaning.

  1. We're late (present) ... We'll be late (future)
  2. You're so tired (present) ... You'll be so tired (future)
  3. It is very pleasant (present) ... It will be very pleasant (future)
  4. I'm all right (present) ... I'll be all right (future)

You cannot omit the be.

There is also a lexical verb will, but it means something different and is conjugated differently (to will, will, wills, willed, willing instead of , will, will, would, ):

He seemed to will the ball into the net. (He seemed to score the goal by mental force.)
The European powers willed this pointless war. (They brought it about deliberately.)

StoneyB on hiatus

Posted 2013-04-09T09:29:17.633

Reputation: 176 469

Should not it be will also for the third person singular? (That is what I understand from the OALD which says, "third person sing. pres. t. will" when speaking of will as verb that means "to want or like.") – kiamlaluno – 2013-04-09T12:10:56.927

1@Kiamlaluno For the modal auxiliary, yes; but not for the regular lexical verb: He wills the ball into the net. Similarly, the modal has no non-finite forms, but the lexical verb has to will, (has) willed, (is) willing. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2013-04-09T12:17:31.307


Oh, there are two different will: One means "to want or like"; the other one means (amongs other things) "to use the power of your mind to do something or to make something happen." I was reading the first entry of the dictionary. :) (At least, that is the distinction the OALD makes.)

– kiamlaluno – 2013-04-09T12:21:50.700

1@kiamlaluno Yes: the first is the oldest sense of the modal; today it is found mostly in fixed phrases like as you will and in the volitive use of the modal: if you will do this, I will do that. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2013-04-09T12:25:23.280

@StoneyB,Thanks for your comments,can you explain me "be" after "to". – Amish Aa – 2013-04-09T16:04:07.847

1@AmishAa Be is the unmarked infinitive; to be is the marked infinitive. For historical reasons, some uses (such as use with the modal verbs can, may, will, shall, must) require the unmarked infinitive, and other uses (such as those in your second set of examples: complements of enough and suppose, clauses of purpose, and subject phrases) require the marked version. You have to learn these one by one, I'm afraid. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2013-04-09T16:29:59.360


Will is an auxiliary verb, used to express the future. It cannot be used on its own.

Barrie England

Posted 2013-04-09T09:29:17.633

Reputation: 7 553

You can use will alone in a sentence similar to "Call it what you will, it's still a problem." – kiamlaluno – 2013-04-09T12:06:32.110

@kiamlaluno. I know, but that's the lexical will, not the auxiliary will. – Barrie England – 2013-04-09T12:19:40.950

I think what you will is the old volitive sense of the modal: Call it what he would, he could not persuade them. They did for him what he would. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2013-04-09T12:27:28.523

@StoneyB. I read it as a lexical verb meaning 'wish, want, desire'. – Barrie England – 2013-04-09T12:31:47.053

The last sentence should be read as "As auxiliary verb, will cannot be used on its own." not "Will can never be used on its own." (I wanted to point out that because learners tend to forget the context in which a sentence is said. :)) – kiamlaluno – 2013-04-09T12:39:13.813

@BarrieEngland But in this sense (as opposed to the distinct lexical verb to will) it is formally indistinguishable from the modal, has the same defective conjugation, and is similarly employed as an auxiliary. I think it's the same word. – StoneyB on hiatus – 2013-04-09T14:45:40.367

@StoneyB. If it is to be seen as an auxiliary in that example, then the clause shows ellipsis. In full it would be Call it what you will call it. That’s quite different from the constructions that the OP was proposing, and which I was addressing in my answer. – Barrie England – 2013-04-09T15:05:22.693

@BarrieEngland Wouldn't the clause show exactly the same ellipsis with want, except that want would require a marked infinitive? - Call it what you want (to call it). – StoneyB on hiatus – 2013-04-09T16:35:05.790

@StoneyB. It would, but that seems to strengthen the case for will being lexical here rather than modal. Whatever it is, it's no help in answering the OP's question. Just to be clear, in the context of the OP's question, auxiliary will cannot stand alone other than when it occurs in some kind of ellipsis. I really didn't mean to make any more of it than that. – Barrie England – 2013-04-09T16:46:13.430


Be is used to show the existence of something for example "I will be there." It also shows future when used with can, e.g "It cannot be possible for you to do so." Be is used in present, past and future also. In past, it is used as WAS and WERE; in present, it is used as IS, AM and ARE; and in future it can be used with will. BE can be used in passive voice of all tenses as in this sentence.


Posted 2013-04-09T09:29:17.633

Reputation: 1