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A Simple Guide to Teaching the Verb “To Be” to EFL Students

teaching verb to be

Are you an EFL teacher looking for an effective way to teach the verb “to be” to your students? Look no further! In this simple guide, we will unlock the power of verbs and explore unique strategies for teaching the verb “to be” in ways that engage and empower your EFL students.

Understanding and using the verb “to be” correctly is crucial for English language learners. It is one of the most fundamental verbs in the English language and forms the basis for many sentence structures. By mastering this verb, your students will gain confidence and fluency in their English communication.

Throughout this guide, we will share practical tips, engaging activities, and proven teaching techniques to help you effectively convey the verb “to be” to your EFL students. Whether you’re a seasoned teacher or just starting out, this guide will provide invaluable insights to enhance your teaching methodologies.

Don’t miss out on unlocking the power of verbs! Join us as we delve into the exciting world of teaching the verb “to be” to EFL students. Let’s embark on this journey together and make English learning a fun and rewarding experience for everyone.

Importance of teaching the Verb “To Be” in English

The verb “to be” is one of the most important verbs in the English language. It is used to express existence, and identity and to describe states or conditions.

Understanding and using the verb “to be” correctly is essential for EFL students to form basic sentences and communicate effectively.

When teaching the verb “to be,” it is essential to emphasize its significance in English grammar. Explain to your students that this verb is used to talk about who or what someone or something is, where someone or something is, and how someone or something is.

By mastering the verb “to be,” EFL students will be able to construct simple sentences, ask and answer questions, and express their thoughts and feelings accurately. It forms the foundation for more complex sentence structures and is a stepping stone towards fluency in English.

Challenges Faced by EFL Students in Learning the Verb “To Be”

Teaching the verb “to be” to EFL students can be challenging due to its irregular conjugation and usage. Many students struggle to:

  • Grasp the different forms of the verb and when to use them correctly.
  • Use the right form of “to be” in different tenses.
  • Use “to be” in negative or interrogative sentences.
  • Achieve subject-verb agreement.

One of the main challenges is the irregular conjugation of the verb “to be.” Unlike regular verbs, the verb “to be” does not follow a predictable pattern.

Students must memorize the different forms: am, is, are, was, and were. This irregularity can be confusing for EFL learners, especially those whose native languages do not have a similar verb structure.

Another challenge is understanding the correct usage of “to be” in different contexts. EFL students may struggle to differentiate between “is” and “are” when talking about singular and plural subjects. They may also find it difficult to use “was” and “were” in the past tense or grasp the concept of subject-verb agreement.

To overcome these challenges, it is important to provide clear explanations, ample practice opportunities, and engaging activities that reinforce the correct usage of the verb “to be.”

Strategies for Teaching the Verb “To Be” Effectively

When teaching the verb “to be” to EFL students, it is crucial to use a variety of strategies that cater to different learning styles and engage students’ interests. Here are some effective strategies to consider:

Visual Aids

Utilize visual aids such as flashcards, posters, or videos to introduce and reinforce the concept of the verb “to be.”

Visuals can help students visualize and remember the different forms and usages of the verb.

Real-life Examples

Provide real-life examples and context to demonstrate the practical application of the verb “to be.”

Use sentences and scenarios that students can relate to, such as describing themselves, their family, or their favourite activities.

Interactive Activities

Engage students in interactive activities that involve using the verb “to be.” For example, create a “Guess Who” game where students have to describe a person using the correct form of “to be.” This encourages speaking and listening skills while reinforcing the verb’s usage.

Role-plays and Dialogues

Incorporate role-plays and dialogues into your lessons to encourage students to use the verb “to be” in context.

Create scenarios where students have to introduce themselves or engage in conversations using the verb.

Songs and Chants

Introduce catchy songs or chants that incorporate the verb “to be.” Music and rhythm can help students remember the forms and usages of the verb in a fun and memorable way.

By implementing these strategies, you can make the learning process more enjoyable and effective for your EFL students, ensuring they grasp the verb “to be” with confidence.

Fun and Interactive Activities for Practicing the Verb “To Be”

To reinforce the verb “to be” and provide ample practice opportunities, incorporate fun and interactive activities into your lessons. Here are some ideas:

Sentence Building

Provide students with subject cards and verb cards (am, is, are) and have them construct simple sentences using the verb “to be.” For example, a student might have the subject “I” and the verb card “am,” leading to the sentence “I am happy.”


Play a game of charades where students act out different situations or emotions using the verb “to be.” For example, a student might act out as being cold, and others have to guess by saying, “You are cold.”

Board Games

Create a board game where students have to answer questions and use the correct form of the verb “to be” to move forward. This adds an element of competition and excitement to the learning process.

Fill in the Blanks

Provide students with sentences where the verb “to be” is missing, and they have to fill in the correct form. This helps reinforce the usage of the verb in different tenses and contexts.

Online Quizzes and Games

Utilize online quizzes and games that focus on practising the verb “to be.” There are various interactive resources available that offer engaging exercises and instant feedback for students.

These activities not only make learning enjoyable but also provide students with ample opportunities to practice and reinforce their understanding of the verb “to be.”

Common Mistakes Made by EFL Students When Using the Verb “To Be”

EFL students often make common mistakes when using the verb “to be.” Recognizing and addressing these mistakes can greatly improve their understanding and usage of the verb. Here are some common errors to watch out for:

Subject-Verb Agreement

EFL students may struggle with subject-verb agreement when using the verb “to be.” For example, they might say “She am happy” instead of “She is happy.” Reinforce the correct form of the verb based on the subject.

Negative and Interrogative Forms

Students may forget to use the appropriate negative or interrogative forms of the verb “to be.” For instance, they might say “He not happy” instead of “He is not happy” or “Are you happy?” instead of “You are happy?”

Confusing Plural and Singular Forms

EFL learners may have difficulty distinguishing between “is” and “are” when talking about singular and plural subjects. Encourage them to pay attention to the subject and use the correct form accordingly.

Incorrect Usage of “Was” and “Were”

Students may struggle to use “was” and “were” correctly in the past tense. For example, they might say “We was at the park” instead of “We were at the park.” Practice differentiating between “was” and “were” in context.

Suggestions to address these mistakes

Here are some suggested ideas to deal with each of the previous common mistakes made by EFL students when using the verb “to bo”

Subject-Verb Agreement:

  • Reinforce the correct form of the verb “to be” based on the subject through repeated practice and examples.
  • Provide exercises where students have to identify and correct subject-verb agreement errors.
  • Explain the rules of subject-verb agreement clearly and have students apply them in context.

Negative and Interrogative Forms:

  • Explicitly teach the negative and interrogative forms of the verb “to be” through examples and explanations.
  • Give students opportunities to practice forming negative and interrogative sentences using the verb “to be”.
  • Provide feedback and corrections when mistakes are made in using these forms.

Confusing Plural and Singular Forms:

  • Emphasize the difference between “is” and “are” and their usage with singular and plural subjects, respectively.
  • Create exercises where students have to identify the correct form based on the subject.
  • Encourage students to pay close attention to the subject and use the correct form accordingly.

Incorrect Usage of “Was” and “Were”:

  • Clearly explain the usage of “was” and “were” in the past tense, highlighting the difference between singular and plural subjects.
  • Provide contextualized examples and practice exercises to reinforce the proper usage of these forms.
  • Correct mistakes immediately and have students repeat the correct form to reinforce understanding.

Overall, addressing these common mistakes requires a combination of explicit instruction, targeted practice exercises, immediate feedback, and reinforcement through repetition and contextualized examples. Additionally, encouraging students to be aware of these common errors and actively monitoring their own speech and writing can help them overcome these challenges.


Mastering the verb “to be” is a critical step in the journey of English language learning for EFL students. By understanding the significance of this fundamental verb and implementing effective teaching strategies, you can empower your students to communicate with confidence and accuracy.

Remember to incorporate engaging activities, visual aids, and real-life examples to make the learning process enjoyable and relatable. Encourage your students to practice regularly and provide constructive feedback to address common mistakes.

With patience, creativity, and a solid understanding of the verb “to be,” you can unlock the power of verbs and guide your EFL students towards fluency in English. Celebrate their progress and continue to explore innovative teaching methods to keep them motivated and engaged.

Unlocking the power of verbs starts with the verb “to be.” By equipping your students with this essential building block, you open doors to a world of endless opportunities for communication and self-expression in the English language.

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Do you have any additional strategies to teach the verb “to be” in the classroom? I’d like to hear from you. Leave a comment below or email me at eltguide@gmail.com

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