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Feb 18, 2009

Beginners.

When you learn English, the verb 'to be' can be a bit of a problem sometimes. It is irregular, so it doesn't follow a regular pattern. But, that is okay. Lots of verbs in English are irregular. I am, you are, he is etc should be familiar if you are serious about learning the language. And, what about the past tense, was and were; do they drive you crazy? Don't worry, any language learner will sympathize. Let's try a few sentences. It's a good idea to read the text and listen at the same.

Hello, I am your English teacher. How are you all? The snow was heavy today and there were several accidents on the road; I thought that class would be canceled, but it wasn't. Was your homework okay? Isn't it nice to understand verbs? It wasn't always easy, was it? I know that your text book isn't cheap,but it is a good one. The other books were very expensive; this one isn't confusing either. My other students aren't as far ahead as you are; they weren't happy with their test results. Yours were the best.

Do you see that with a bit of condensed practice, you can get used to this little but important verb?

Advanced.

 "To be or not to be; that is the question". Those aren't my own words, of course. They were written by the genius himself, Shakespeare. They are quoted all the time, in different contexts, and, I'm sure, misquoted sometimes. The verb is such a short, insignificant sounding verb, but it is essential and weighty in meaning. Shakespeare wrote the sentence at the beginning of Hamlet's solliloquy, when he questions the meaning of life and the decisions we must make. What a fantastic piece of writing it is! Maybe, one day, I will treat you to the whole speech; I'll have to practice it quite a few times first. But, until then, we need to practice the little verb 'to be'. Isn't that a wonderful idea? Would it be necessary to practice if you knew it well? Probably not. But it will be necessary if you wish your English to be polished and natural. It wasn't always fun as a French and Spanish student to be chained to verb practice, but the teachers were undeterred. Verb practice is, was, and will be part of my life style. So, what do you think? Am I a sneaky teacher, fitting in the verb all over the place without you realizing? I'm assuming that you are all good students who love the verb 'to be', are you?