Is, Am, Are Verbs – Verbs in English

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The is, am, are verbs are some of the first that we learn in English. Collectively they are called “to be” in the infinitive form, and they are used to tell us the state of someone or something. “Is, am, and are” verbs are the three conjugations of “to be” in the present simple tense

When you begin teaching your child verbs, this is the place that you will start. Present simple tense and “to be” not only lets your child describe basic things like who they are and how they feel, but it also will introduce them to the concepts of conjugation and basic sentence patterns in English.

Your child may take some time learning is, am, are verbs because, as we have said, they are learning far more than just these verbs. They are learning the very basics of the English language and what is required to use it.

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Beginning to teach your child verbs in English can be a stressful thing to do, and it is important that you get it right. If you want some help, take a look at our post on English Verbs for Beginners or send us a message with your questions by clicking on the image below.  

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Usage of Is, Am, Are Verbs

“Is, am, and are” are part of the “to be” verb in the present simple tense. We use them to show that a subject has this quality, has this state (permanent or temporary), to show where something is, or is this class of thing. For instance:

I am tall.

In this sentence, we are showing with “am” that the subject (I) has the quality of being “tall.” Here are some more sentences that can show the qualities of a subject.

She is fast.

They are friendly.

It is heavy.

John is short.

Mary and Sue are mean.

We also can use is, am, are verbs to show that something is currently in a certain state. This state can be permanent or temporary.

I am angry.

It is rainy.

They are sad.

The earth is round.

Today is Monday.

Another important use of is, am, are verbs is to show where something’s location is

The ball is on the table.

He is in New York.

We are at school.

Jill is at home.

Finally, we can also use is, am, and are verbs to show that a subject belongs to a class or group of things.

I am a boy. 

They are American.

We are people.

Spot is a dog.

Very generally, these four categories broadly make up how we use is, am, are verbs in daily use. You do not need to teach your child this. Instead, since this verb is so commonly used, with enough practice, they will just come to understand when to use it.

You can help this by picking target sentences that can help you teach how to use is, am, and are. We will go into this more in the practice sections.

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Is, Am, Are Verbs Conjugations

As we mentioned before, “is, am, and are” are the three conjugations of the verb “to be” in the present simple tense. Conjugations are the ways that we change verbs to reflect the subject and tense that that verb is being used with. One of the first things you will need to teach your child is which “to be” conjugations go with which subject.

Is, am, are verbs in the present simple tense. Shows the conjugations: i am, you are, he is, she is, it is, we are, they are

I – am

You – are

He – is

She – is

It – is

We – are

They – are

Practicing this often is key. You want your child to automatically associate the subject with the correct conjugation of to be.

Is, Am, Are Verbs Worksheets

There are some skills you can teach with worksheets. However, I don’t feel that conjugation is one of them. How do you get better at something? You do it. 

If you want your child to become better at reading is, am, and are, then use a book. 

If you want your child to be able to use these words in spoken sentences, then they need to practice speaking either in conversation or in a game.

If you want to practice writing, then work on their letters, and then work up to full sentences with is, am, are verbs. 

Using “connect the subject to the conjugation” worksheets or trace the words worksheets will not help your child improve their use of verbs in English. 

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Is, Am, Are Verbs Practice

So worksheets are out. So what’s next? If your child is learning is, am, and are, then they are probably pretty young. The first thing to practice is speaking. The goal here is to get them used to these three words and have them automatically associate them with the correct subject.

Start slow, and build up. Take a look at our scaffolding and target sentences post to see what I am talking about.

This is how we would teach an absolute beginner.

  1. Teach some basic nouns, we like to start with emotions (happy, sad, and angry)
  2. Play some Games and drill until they know them
  3. Teach the pronouns I, you, he, she
  4. Play some pointing games or Simon Says games to practice this.
  5. Teach the target sentences “I am happy/sad/angry” and “How are you?”
  6. Practice and Play
  7. Teach “You are happy/sad/angry” “He/She is happy/sad/angry”
  8. Practice, Practice, Practice
  9. Teach the questions: “Are you happy/sad/angry?” Am I happy/sad/angry?” “Is he/she happy/sad/angry?”
  10. Teach the answers: “Yes, I/you/he/she am/are/is happy/sad/angry” “No, I/you/he/she am/is/are not happy/sad/angry”
  11. Put it all together and practice and play some more.  
  12. When they get this all down, start to work in it, we, and they. You will need to start from the beginning and make sure that they understand what these pronouns mean first, and then build your way up.

Depending on how old your child is, how quick a learner they are, and how much of this they already know, this could take a while. 

Here’s the most important secret to getting your child to learn faster and better. It needs to be fun! And it needs to be relevant. 

For kids, this is pretty much the same thing: fun and relevant. When I say relevant, I mean to them. If a child can see the benefit (in their own view) of learning something, then nothing will stop them. 

For most young children, future grades or university entrance exams are not relevant. Having fun is relevant. 

So, in all those steps where you see practice and play, your job is to make sure that every bit of practice comes with a healthy dose of play. 

In that regard, let’s take a look at some games to help you do that.

Is, Am, Are Verbs Games To Practice

This list is just a couple of games that we would use when designing a lesson around is, am, and are. Feel free to adapt any games that your child likes that will get them using this important verb.

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Board Games

Nothing beats a board game for fun and flexibility. You can practice anything, and kids like to play them. Luckily, we have made a free board game for you to use with your family. Just take a look at our post on Board Games to get more information.

Face Draw and Face Hit

This one requires some paper or a whiteboard, at least something that you can draw on. First, you want your child to draw you whatever emotion they are learning on a smiley. So happy, sad, sleepy, angry, or whatever you like. 

Step two is to display them around them, on the wall or floor. Make sure to clear the area for anything breakable. Then you are going to call out an emotion in English, and then they will hit it. Make sure they repeat the word back to you when they hit it. You want them practicing to speak, not just recognize the word.

Next part, have them call out the emotions, and you will hit the faces. Seems weird right? Kids love to give you directions to mom and dad, and it’s a sneaky way to have them say the emotions out loud. Try getting some of them wrong, to see if they catch your “mistake.”  

Pointing Game to Learn Pronouns

Sorry, no fancy name, just a fun game I learned a while ago. Start by reviewing the pronouns you have already taught. Then line up the kids. If there is only one child, then you may need to add a reward for getting x number right. Stickers usually work well.

Next up, you will call out I, or you, or any pronoun you have taught, and they need to point at the correct person. The important thing is that it is always from the position of the speaker. So if you call out “I,” then your child should be pointing at you. It would also be good to have them say, “you” in this instance. So after you call out “I,” they point at you and yell “you.”

When a pronoun involves two or more (we and they), I have them point back and forth between two people. So “they” means you can point at anyone except for yourself and the caller because that would be “we.” If there are only two of you, you may need to invite some friends over or draw up some “friends” that can be pointed at. 

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YouTube Videos on Is, Am, Are Verbs

YouTube videos are a great way to engage kids. It can also be a fun way to review is, am, and are verbs, especially when you don’t have the time to do it yourself. Finally, YouTube videos can model language with an authentic accent. This can help them with their accent and train their ears to hear and identify these words in English. 

Rockin’ English – (Not) Song

Teach your child about negative present simple sentences with this rock song. Your child will learn how to use “not” in a sentence and the contractions that you can use.

Where is it?

A song that I used to use in my own classroom. Where is it? Teaches your child in, on, and under. This song would be a great place to go after your child has learned the basic is, am, and are verbs use.

What is it?

Part song and part game, this game has your child learn the questions “What is it?” and “It’s a ____.” Kids will have to guess which animal it is before the timer runs out. 

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Learn Verbs with The Learner’s Nook

If you are interested in learning more about verbs in English, we have plenty of verb resources at our Verbs in English page.

Explore more verb resources

Final Thoughts on Is, Am, Are Verbs

Is, am, and are verbs are some of the first that your child will learn. Depending on your background, it may be hard for your child to understand that verbs in English change or conjugate. This is an opportunity to introduce them to this concept and how it works for verbs in English.

Strong foundations in the present simple tense are super important for your child as it is the most basic of the English verb tenses. As well, “is, am, and are” are going to be necessary for one of the next verb tenses in English that your child will learn: Present Continuous or Present Progressive. Mistakes now will only waste time later.

If you are looking for more learning opportunities for your child, why not take a look at some more lessons that we have. One great way to practice is, am, are verbs is with animals. We have lessons on farm animals, savanna animals, sea animals, and rainforest animals for your child to learn. these lessons include coloring pages and free flashcards to help you teach.

We hope that this article has helped get you thinking about how you are going to teach your child about is, am, are verbs. Just like always, if you need any help, comment on this post or click on the image below, and we can do our best to get back to you as quickly as possible. 

click here to ask your questions about am, is, are verbs
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