Verb to be ESL Activities, Games and Worksheets

It must be true

ESL Verb to be Game - Reading, Matching and Speaking Activity - Beginner (A1) - 30 minutes

Here is a free verb 'to be' game for beginners to help them practice forming affirmative and negative sentences with the present simple. This activity also helps students understand subject-verb agreement and how to use the verb 'to be' to make true statements. Give each group of three a set of cards. The students shuffle the cards and deal out 15 each, leaving the rest in a pile face down on the table. The players then place their cards face up on the table in front of them. The first player looks at their cards and makes a true affirmative or negative sentence by placing three cards face up on the table and reading the sentence aloud, e.g. 'I’m a student'. If the sentence is formed correctly and is true, the player scores a point. Players may indicate to things or people in the classroom to help justify a sentence as being true. The player then takes three more cards from the pile. The next player then puts down three cards and makes a true sentence and so on. If a player cannot make a true sentence, they take a card from the top of the pile, put one of their cards at the bottom and miss a turn. The game continues until all the cards have been used. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins.
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Aiko and Richard

ESL Verb to be Activity - Writing, Listening and Speaking - Elementary (A1-A2) - 25 minutes

In this verb 'to be' activity, students ask and answer personal information questions with the verb 'to be' in order to complete a profile. Divide the students into two groups (A and B) and give each student a corresponding worksheet. Working with the people in their group, students look at the profile questions section at the top of the worksheet and write a question for each prompt using the verb 'to be'. The students then take on the role of the person at the bottom of their worksheet and ask and answer questions with a partner in order to complete a profile about him or her. The students then pair up with someone from the other group. The students take it in turns to ask and answer the questions they have prepared and complete the profile with their partner's answers. When the students have finished, they check their answers by comparing worksheets.
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Interactive Version - In this verb to be breakout room activity, pairs of students write, ask and answer questions using the verb 'to be' in order to complete a personal information profile.

 

Are you...?

ESL Verb to be Game - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking Activity - Elementary (A1-A2) - 25 minutes

In this free verb 'to be' game, students race to complete a bingo card by asking and answering present simple yes/no questions with the verb 'to be'. Give each student a bingo card. Each square on the bingo card contains an affirmative or negative present simple sentence with the subject (name) missing. The students' task is to complete the sentences by asking present simple yes/no questions with the verb 'to be'. For example, if a sentence reads '_______ is good at skating', a student asks 'Are you good at skating?' When a classmate replies 'Yes, I am', the student writes their name in the blank space, e.g. 'Joshua is good at skating'. To make the game more personalized, there are six blank 'is' and 'isn't' sentences for the students to fill in based on their own background, culture or country before they play the game. Each time a student speaks to a classmate, they are only allowed to ask one question. The first student to get five names in a row either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally wins the game. Play several rounds with students receiving a different bingo card each time. You can also have the students win by completing the entire card with names.
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Find Out

ESL Verb to be Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Elementary (A1-A2) - 25 minutes

In this useful verb 'to be' teaching activity, students practice the various uses of the verb 'to be' by asking and answering questions in order to complete a chart with information about four people. Divide the students into groups of four and give each student an A, B, C or D worksheet. The students take on the role of the person in their chart and read through their information. Elicit the verb 'to be' questions needed for the activity and have the students write them down. The students then go around asking and answering the verb 'to be' questions with the people in their group, completing their chart with the corresponding information. When the students have finished, they check their answers by comparing worksheets. Afterwards, review the answers and uses of the verb 'to be' with the class.
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Park Street

ESL Verb to be Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Elementary (A1-A2) - 25 minutes

In this entertaining verb 'to be' activity, students practice exchanging information about different people. Divide the students into groups of 8 to 14. Give each student a copy of the worksheet and a house card. The students imagine that they are the person on their card. The aim of the activity is to find out who lives in the other houses on Park Street and to write all the details on the worksheet. To do this, students talk to the other members of their group and exchange information using the verb 'to be'. First, the students give their own information to each other, e.g. 'I’m Chloe. I’m at house number 1 with Leo. I’m 32 years old and Leo is 33, etc.' When the students find out about other people who live there, they pass the information on to other students using the third-person singular, e.g. 'Alex is at house number 2. He is 30 years old. He is single, etc.' When everyone has finished, review the answers with the class.
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Snap it up

ESL Verb to be Game - Reading and Matching Activity - Elementary (A1-A2) - 20 minutes

In this fun verb 'to be' game, students play snap by matching yes/no questions with the verb 'to be' to short answers. Divide the students into pairs. Give one student a set of yes/no question cards and the other a set of short answer cards. Both students turn over a card from their pile at the same time and place them on the table next to each other. If the question and answer match, the first student to say 'Snap' scores a point. Students then pick up their own cards, shuffle their pack, and play again. The students do not pick up their partner's cards. If the question and answer don't match, the students continue turning over cards until a matching pair comes up. If a student says 'Snap' when the question and answer don't match, the other student gets a point and the game continues. The first student to get 15 points wins the game.
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Things we have in common

ESL Verb to be Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking and Matching - Elementary (A1-A2) - 30 minutes

In this entertaining verb 'to be' activity, students write 'We are...' and 'We aren’t...' sentences about things they have in common. The students then play a matching game with the sentences. Divide the students into groups of five and give each student a card. The students write their name at the top of the card in the space provided. Students then talk to each group member in turn and write a 'We are...' and 'We aren’t...' sentence on their card about things they have in common. No two statements can be the same, so students must vary the information they write and think of something different they have in common each time they change partner. When the students have completed their cards, they cut their paper into name cards and sentence cards as indicated. The students collect all the name cards from the group, shuffle them and spread them out face down on the table. The students do the same with the sentence cards, spreading them out separately from the name cards. The students then play a matching game by taking it in turns to turn over two name cards and one sentence card. If the sentence is true for the two students whose names have been turned up, the student keeps the sentence card. If the sentence isn't true, the student turns the cards back over and it's the next student's turn to play. The students continue in this way until there are no sentence cards left. The student with the most cards at the end of the game wins.
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Understanding the Verb 'To Be'

ESL Verb to be Worksheet - Reading and Writing Activity - Elementary (A1-A2) - 35 minutes

In this verb 'to be' exercises PDF, students practice present simple verb 'to be' subject-verb agreement in affirmative and negative sentences as well as questions and answers. Give each student a copy of the two-page worksheet. Students begin by reading a text about a family and underlining all the examples of the verb 'to be' in the description. Next, students read statements about the text and mark them true or false. Students then complete sentences with the correct form of the verb 'to be'. Students then move on to do the same with questions and answers. After that, students rewrite sentences, correcting verb 'to be' errors. In the last exercise, students use the singular and plural forms of the verb 'to be' to make sentences about different topics. When the students have finished, review their sentences as a class.
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Interactive Version - In this interactive verb 'to be' worksheet, students practice the verb 'to be' in present simple affirmative and negative statements, questions and answers.

 

Where are you from?

ESL Verb to be Game - Writing, Listening and Speaking Activity - Elementary (A1-A2) - 35 minutes

In this fun verb 'to be' game, students talk about the city they are from and their nationality. This activity can also be used to teach or practice countries, nationalities and capital cities. Give each student an identity card. The students imagine that they are from the city and country on their card. The students go around the class using the verb 'to be' to tell their classmates the city they are from and their nationality, according to the country on their card, e.g. 'I'm from Canberra. I'm Australian'. The students' task is to listen carefully and try to remember which city each student is from and their nationality. When the students have all spoken to each other, divide them into pairs and give them a copy of the worksheet. Working with their partner, the students try to remember and write down where each person is from and their nationality using the verb 'to be', e.g. 'Joshua is from Canberra. He is Australian'. When everyone has finished writing, check the correct answers with the class by asking the students to say the city they are from and their nationality. Pairs score one point for every factually correct sentence and an extra point for the correct use of the verb 'to be'. The pair with the most points wins the game.
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Whose dogs are these?

ESL Verb to be Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Elementary (A1-A2) - 30 minutes

In this useful information gap activity, students practice asking and answering questions with the verb 'to be'. Divide the students into two groups (A and B) and give each student a corresponding worksheet. Students begin by completing present simple 'Wh' questions with words from a box on the worksheet. Students do this by reading the question and answer, adding in a suitable word from the box to complete the question. Next, each student pairs up with someone from the other group. Students then use the 'Wh' questions and answers from the first exercise in an information gap activity about four people who have lost their dogs. The students' task is to complete descriptions of the dogs by asking and answering questions with their partner and completing the missing information in the chart. Students then move on to practice yes/no questions with the verb 'to be' in a second information gap activity where the four people want to find out if their dogs are at an animal shelter. The students use yes/no questions from the worksheet to ask about dogs in six cages in the animal shelter, e.g. 'Is the dog in cage 1 female?' Their partner replies 'Yes, it is' or 'No, it isn't' accordingly. Students complete the missing information in the chart with the answers. Students then look at the information in the chart and match the people with their dogs. Afterwards, check the answers with the class.
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Interactive Version - In this verb to be interactive breakout room activity, pairs of students complete various information gap exercises by asking and answering questions with the verb 'to be'.

 

Past and Present Verb 'to be'

ESL Verb to be Worksheet - Reading and Writing Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

This free verb 'to be' worksheet helps students to practice the past and present simple of the verb 'to be': am, are, is, was and were as well as their negative forms. Give each student a copy of the two-page worksheet. Students begin with a present simple verb 'to be' gap-fill exercise where they complete sentences with am, is, are, isn't or aren't. Students then do a past simple verb 'to be' gap-fill exercise where they complete sentences with was, were, wasn't or weren't. Students then move on to answer yes/no comprehension questions about the two texts using the verb 'to be'. Next, students complete another text with the correct form of the verb 'to be' in brackets to practice both past and present verb 'to be' forms. To finish, students write an email to one of the people from the texts using the verb 'to be' forms from the worksheet. When the students have finished, they read their emails to the class and feedback is given.
Past and Present Verb 'to be' Worksheet Preview
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Interactive Version - In this interactive verb 'to be' exercises PDF, students practice past and present simple verb 'to be' positive and negative forms.

 

Secret Identity

ESL Verb to be Game - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking Activity - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 30 minutes

In this fun verb 'to be' activity, students play a guessing game where they ask yes/no questions with the verb 'to be' in order to find out a partner's secret identity. Give each student a copy of the worksheet. The students begin by circling the questions they would like to ask in questions 1 to 10 on the worksheet and completing questions 11 to 20 with their own ideas. When the students have finished writing, divide them into pairs. Each student then imagines that they are a famous person or character and answers their partner's questions as if they were that person. Students can be a real person or a famous character from a book, film, cartoon, etc. One student goes first and asks the questions they have prepared to their partner who responds 'Yes, I am' or 'No, I'm not' accordingly. When the student thinks they know their partner's secret identity, they can make a guess. If the guess is correct, the students swap roles. If not, the student continues to ask questions and make guesses until the last question has been asked. Afterwards, there is a class feedback session to find out who asked the most and least questions.
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Interactive Version - In this breakout room activity, pairs of students play a game where they ask verb 'to be' yes/no questions in order to find out a partner's secret identity

 

To be or not to be

ESL Verb to be Activity - Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking - Pre-intermediate (A2) - 35 minutes

In this imaginative verb 'to be' activity, students write and respond to 'Wh' and yes/no questions with the verb 'to be'. The students then play a guessing game using the questions and answers. Give each group of six a set of question slips. Each student takes a slip. The students think of a personal information question beginning with the word on their slip and write down the next word in the question. When the students have written the next word, they pass the slip to the person on their right, who writes the next word and passes it on. This process continues until the question on each slip is complete. The student who writes the last word adds a question mark and hands the completed question to the next person. That person writes an answer underneath, puts the slip in an envelope and takes another slip. This continues until all the slips are completed with questions and answers. Students then take it in turns to take a slip from the envelope and read it aloud to the group, without showing it to anyone. The students then guess who answered the question. The student who wrote the answer bluffs by guessing another student, but once all the other group members have guessed, the student reveals it was them. For each correct guess, students score a point. The student with the most points at the end of the game wins.
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