When do we use modal verb be?
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The verb be is never a modal auxiliary; it is a primary verb along with have and do.

It is Tuesday. -- main verb be with copular function

He is playing. -- aspect auxiliary be

A mistake was made. -- passive (voice) auxiliary
InchoateknowledgeThe verb be is never a modal auxiliary; it is a primary verb along with have and do.
"Be" is indeed a primary verb-form, but note that it qualifies as a non-modal auxiliary verb not just when it's marking progressive aspect or passive voice, but also when it's the only verb in the clause, taking a complement with the form of an AdjP, NP, etc.

BillJ
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BillJbut also when it's the only verb in the clause
Let's see if I've got this right.

In It is Tuesday is is an auxiliary verb; is is not a main verb. Right?

That seems to imply that forms of to be are never main verbs, I think. Is that right?

I did not know that.

CJ
CalifJim
BillJbut also when it's the only verb in the clause
Let's see if I've got this right.
In It is Tuesday is is an auxiliary verb; is is not a main verb. Right?
That seems to imply that forms of to be are never main verbs, I think. Emotion: tongue tied Is tha
The contrast is between lexical verbs and auxiliary verbs. "Be" qualifies as an auxiliary verb because its behaviour with respect to inversion and negation is the same as when it's marking progressive aspect or passive voice. Compare this use of "be" as an only verb with one marking progressive aspect:

be as ASPECT MARKER be as ONLY VERB

"He is acting strangely". "He is insane".

"Is he acting strangely?" "Is he insane?"

"He isn't acting strangely". "He isn't insane".

BillJ

ps: to add to my first post, "be" also has secondary forms: "be" (plain form), "been" (past participle) and "being" (gerund-participle).
BillJThe contrast is between lexical verbs and auxiliary verbs.
So forms of to be are never lexical verbs, right?

CJ
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CalifJim
BillJThe contrast is between lexical verbs and auxiliary verbs.
So forms of to be are never lexical verbs, right? CJ
On the analysis I described, no.

BillJ
OK. Got it. Thanks.

CJ
I agree with CJ. The main verb is the one which is used to form the main clause in a sentence. I see no reason to exclude the verb 'to be' from being the main verb, i.e. the one denoting existance, physical condition, describing age, size, weight, price, etc. In I am forty the verb am is used as an ordinary verb.
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