Use of IS, AM, ARE in English

IS, AM & ARE are the most used verbs (helping and main) in English. In this post, we will learn how to use is, am, are in English.

Different use of is, am, are

The verbs is, am, are can be used as both an auxiliary verb and a main verb in different situations. Let’s understand all the situations where these verbs are used and how they can function as both an auxiliary verb and a main verb.

We use is, am, are in the present tense in four different situations.

1. To describe a person or a thing in the present
2. To name/rename a person or a thing in the present
3. To say what someone is doing right now
4. To talk about what is done in the present

Before we look at these situations separately, let’s look at the nouns or pronouns we use with is, am, and are.

  • IS = he, she, it & all singular noun names (singular subject)
  • ARE = we, you, they & all plural noun names (plural subject)
  • AM = only used with ‘I’
Singular nounsRahul, Ashish, Jyoti, doctor, singer, freedom, fear, mother, car, bus, table, motivation, laptop, pollution, park, etc.
Plural nounsstudents, parents, friends, teachers, sisters, brothers, cars, buses, cities, tables, etc.

Notice that nouns such as freedom, fear, motivation, and pollution are uncountable in nature, but they are always used with a singular verb and considered singular. They don’t have a plural form.

Use of is am are in English
Use of is am are in English

1. To describe a person or a thing in the present

If you want to describe a person or a thing in the present, use is, am, are according to the subject and describe how the subject is. The subject is described using a regular adjective or something that works like an adjective: the present participle, past participle, prepositional phrase, and adjective phrase.

Structure: subject + is/am/are + adjective

Examples of ‘AM

  • I am smart.
  • I am very hardworking.
  • I am happy.
  • I am extremely sad.
  • I am focused.
  • I am sorry.
  • I am in pain.

The word or words italicized are adjectives or equivalents.

TIP: you can also use an adjective complement after the adjective too. It gives information about the adjective it complements.

  • I am happy about your promotion.
  • I am sad to see this.
  • I am focused on the match.
  • I am sorry for your loss.

The phrases italicized and underlined are adjective complements in these sentences. Notice that the adjective complement sits next to the adjective in the sentences.

Examples of “IS”

  • She is beautiful.
  • He is talented.
  • Jyoti is extremely talented in painting.
  • My father is funny.
  • That house is huge.
  • Her dog is very tiny.
  • It is wonderful to watch.
  • The weather is pleasant today.

Examples of ‘ARE

  • You are amazing.
  • They are scared.
  • We are not stupid.
  • Our teachers are polite to us.
  • His parents are sweet.
  • These boys are notorious.
  • You are so sweet.
  • They are mean to everyone.

NOTE: This is the first usage of is, am, are where we describe the subject in the present using an adjective or adjective equivalent just after is/am/are.

2. To name/rename a person or a thing in the present

The second use of is, am, are is to rename a noun or a pronoun (subject) in the present. Here, we use a noun or noun phrase after is/am/are and give a name to the subject. Here, these verbs function as a linking verb—a type of a main verb.

The noun or noun equivalent that comes after a linking verb is called the subject nominative—one of the two types of a subject complement.

Structure: Subject + is/am/are + noun (predicate nominative)

Examples of ‘is/are/are’:

  • I am a teacher.
  • You are my best friend.
  • Jyoti is an artist.
  • I am an English teacher.
  • We are students.
  • They are my cousins.
  • He is a good friend of mine.
  • She is my girlfriend.
  • It is a great movie.
  • Monu is an amazing friend.
  • My parents are teachers.
  • These guys are social workers.
  • Rahul is a dancer.
  • Jon is an MMA fighter.

Notice that we are using a noun or a noun phrase after is/are/are and giving a name to the subject in the present. Also, these sentences are in the Simple Present tense.

3. To say what someone is doing right now

The third use of is, am, are is to use them in the Present Continuous tense to talk about an action that is happening in the present. In the first two usages, these verbs work as a linking verb (main verb), and here, they work as an auxiliary verb (helping verb).

Structure: Subject + is/am/are + V1+ing

Examples of ‘is/am/are’:

  • I am talking to you.
  • You are reading this post.
  • We are working on a project.
  • They are mocking you.
  • She is living with me.
  • He is playing outside.
  • It is not working properly.
  • Jyoti is painting a stone in her room.
  • Archit is talking to his mother.
  • My parents are watching TV.
  • Some kids are playing outside.

NOTE: we also use is, am, are to talk about something that is going to happen in near future, something that is already planned.

  • We are going to Pune next week.
  • They are coming tomorrow.
  • Shruti is coming back soon.

4. To talk about what is done in the present

The last use of ‘is, am are’ is to talk about what is done in the present. Here, the sentences are in the Present Indefinite tense passive voice.

Structure: Subject + is/am/are + V3 (past participle) + (by the doer)

So, here are the four uses of is, am & are. Try the practice questions below to check your understanding of the topic.


  • The company pays him on time. (Present Indefinite tense, active voice)
  • He is paid on time (by the company). (Present Indefinite tense, passive voice)
  • Everyone highly appreciates me for my work. (Present Indefinite tense, active voice)
  • I am highly appreciated for my work. (Present Indefinite tense, passive voice)
  • We train the students really well here. (Present Indefinite tense, active voice)
  • The students are trained really well here. (Present Indefinite tense, passive voice)

Note that in the passive voice, the focus is on the receiver of the action (object); the agent (doer of the action) is not important and is generally not mentioned in the sentence.

More examples:

  • They are not loved.
  • She is ignored by her friends.
  • My videos are watched by millions of people.
  • Jon is considered the best MMA fighter.

Fill in the blanks using ‘is/am/are.’

  1. We __ ready for the match.
  2. She __ not giving up.
  3. I __ a dancer.
  4. They __ great friends.
  5. Everyone __ waiting for you.
  6. Nothing __ possible without dedication.
  7. Jamie __ thinking about marrying you.
  8. My parents __ not going anywhere.
  9. India __ a beautiful country.
  10. Most people __ mentally weak.
  11. Everything __ possible to achieve.
  12. Something __ bothering us.
  13. Someone __ waiting for you at the stop.
  14. We __ pumped up.
  15. I __ writing a post.


  1. are
  2. is
  3. am
  4. are
  5. is
  6. is
  7. is
  8. are
  9. is
  10. are
  11. is
  12. is
  13. is
  14. are
  15. am

NOTE: when referring to the present, always use ‘is’ with the following indefinite pronouns:

Someone, somebody, anyone, anybody, everyone, everybody, no one, nobody, something, anything, everything, nothing, somewhere, anywhere, everywhere, nowhere


What type of word is am and are?

These (Is, am, are) are one of the TO BE forms of verbs in English. They can function as a linking verb (main verb) and an auxiliary verb.

What is the uses of is are and am?

The verbs (is, am, and are) are ‘to be’ form of verbs that are used either as an auxiliary verb or a main verb (as a linking verb). As an auxiliary verb, it supports the main verb in showing the time and indicates the number of the subject. And as a main verb, it links the subject to its complement.

Why do we use is?

We use the verb ‘is’ to link the subject of a clause to its complement (as a linking verb) or supports the main verb in showing the tense and the number of the subject.

What tense uses AM?

It is used in the Simple Present tense (both in the active voice and passive voice) and the Present Continuous tense (both in the active voice and passive voice).

1. I am a student. (Simple Present tense active voice)
2. I am not needed here. (Simple Present tense passive voice)
3. I am not ignoring you. (Present Continuous tense active voice)
4. I am being ignored here. (Present Continuous tense passive voice)

Hope you enjoyed the lesson! Feel free to share your question, doubt, or feedback in the comment section, and also, share the post with the people that need it.

For one-on-one classes, contact me at [email protected].

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Ashish found his first love—the English language—a few years back. Since then, he has been immersed in the language, breaking down the language and teaching it to passionate English learners. He has a flair for listening to the English language (podcasts, sitcoms, stories), observing the nuances, and making it easy for English learners. He is known for breaking down complex English topics and making them easy to be understood.

6 thoughts on “Use of IS, AM, ARE in English”

  1. This is a very common topic , but we, sometimes, get confused. Thank you for describing things simply; you made it really easy to understand. ❤


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