Is: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

Last Updated on
September 29, 2023

1. "Is" (verb): Third person singular present of be.
2. "Is" (verb): Used to indicate the identity, qualities, or condition of a person or thing.
3. "Is" (verb): Used in the formation of continuous tenses, usually with present participles.
4. "Is" (abbreviation): Abbreviated form of Island, Isle, and Icelend.

The term "is" plays a pivotal role in English grammar. Serving primarily as a linking verb, it bridges subjects with their predicates, often denoting states, conditions, identities, or characteristics. Mastering its usage is fundamental for constructing meaningful and grammatically correct sentences. Let's explore this versatile word further.

"Is" Definition: What Does "Is" Mean?

The word "is" is a form of the verb "be," specifically the third person singular present indicative. It acts as a linking verb, connecting the subject of a sentence to its predicate, often to describe or equate.

  • State or Condition: Describing a particular state or condition, e.g., "The sky is blue."
  • Identity: Indicating identity or nature, e.g., "She is a teacher."
  • Location: Denoting location or position, e.g., "My book is on the table.

Parts of Speech

The word "is" is a finite verb, which means it agrees with its subject in person and number. The word is can also function as an auxiliary verb, which helps to form other verb forms or constructions.

How to Pronounce "Is"?

Pronouncing "is" correctly is crucial for clear communication. The pronunciation of "is" is consistent across many English dialects.

Phonetic Pronunciation: ɪz (Short 'i' sound followed by 'z')

Synonyms of "Is": Other Ways to Say "Is"

While "is" is a basic verb with a specific function, some contexts might allow for synonymous expressions. However, these can be context-specific.

  • Exists
  • Remains
  • Stays

Antonyms of "Is": Other Ways to Say "Is"

Given the fundamental nature of "is," finding direct antonyms is challenging. However, in certain contexts, one could use:

  • Is not
  • Isn't
  • Ain't (informal)

Examples of "Is" in a Sentence

Using "is" correctly is central to English grammar.

Here are ten sentences showcasing its different contexts:

1. Is it your fault? Of course not!
2. The final call is at 5 p.m. for the meeting.
3. My favorite color is green.
4. Where is the nearest bookstore?
5. Happiness is the key to a fulfilling life.
6. She is keeping her fingers crossed for good results.
7. The movie is thrilling from start to finish.
8. She is a renowned author in the literary world.
9. My dream is to travel the world.
10. A momentary lapse in judgment is all it takes to make a mistake.

Frequency of Use

The word "is" is among the most frequently used verbs in the English language. Its fundamental role in linking subjects with predicates makes it a staple in written and spoken communication. In many word frequency lists, "is" consistently ranks within the top 10 most commonly used words.

Variants of "Is"

Given the nature of "is" as a form of the verb "be," its variants are other conjugations and related terms of the same verb.

1. Be: The base form used for infinitive or imperative purposes.
2. Am: First person singular present indicative, e.g., "I am."
3. Are: Second person singular and all plural present indicative, e.g., "You are," "They are."
4. Was: First and third person singular past indicative.
5. Were: Second person singular and all plural past indicative.

Related Terms to "Is"

"Is" is a verb that acts as the third person singular present of "be." It links the subject of a clause to its complement and has several related terms, each with its specific function in the English language.

1. Are
2. Be
3. Was
4. Were
5. Being
6. Been
7. Am
8. Isn't (Is not)

Etymology: History and Origins of "Is"

The word “is” is the third person singular present indicative of “be.” Its origin can be traced back to Old English “is,” which comes from the Germanic stem *es-. This stem is also the source of Old High German, Gothic “ist,” Old Norse "es, er." The Proto-Indo-European root *es-ti- is the source of Sanskrit “asti,” Greek “esti,” and Latin “est." These are all third-person singular forms of the root *es-, which means "to be." Until the 1500s, “is” was pronounced to rhyme with "kiss.

Derivatives and Compounds of "Is"

The word "is" is a fundamental verb in English and doesn't give rise to many derivatives. However, compounds and contractions related to "is" simplify communication.

1. Isn't: A contraction of "is not."
2. Is's: Though grammatically incorrect, it is sometimes colloquially used to indicate possession after a singular noun ending in "s," such as "James is's car." (Note: This is not standard English.)

Common Misspellings of "Is"

Since "is" is a short, two-letter word, it isn't frequently misspelled. However, when errors occur around "is," they usually involve punctuation or contractions.

1. I's (when intending to write "is")
2. iss
3. iz (colloquial or stylized)

10 Idioms Using "Is"

"Is" is a foundational word in English and frequently appears in many idiomatic expressions.

1. Home is where the heart is.
2. The grass is always greener on the other side.
3. What's done is done.
4. Time is of the essence.
5. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
6. Honesty is the best policy.
7. It is what it is.
8. Knowledge is power.
9. Practice is the key to perfection.
10. The world is your oyster.

10 Common Questions About "Is"

Due to its fundamental nature in English, "is" prompts a range of questions, especially for those learning the language.

1. How is "is" used in a sentence?

"Is" connects the subject with its predicate, as in "She is a teacher."

2. Can "is" begin a question?

Yes, like in the question, "Is it raining?"

3. Why is "is" sometimes replaced by "are" or "was"?

It depends on the subject's number (singular or plural) and tense (present or past).

4. How do you contract "is" in a sentence?

You can use "is" in contractions like "she's" (she is) or "it's" (it is).

5. Is "is" used in passive voice?

Yes, with past participles, e.g., "The book is read."

6. When should you not use "is"?

When the subject is plural in the present tense or referring to first or second person singular.

7. Can "is" be used to indicate possession?

No, "is" shows a state or characteristic, not possession. For possession, "has" or "have" is used.

8. How is "is" used in the present continuous tense?

With the "-ing" form of verbs, like "She is singing."

9. Why is "is" important in English?

It's a primary auxiliary verb that helps construct many verb tenses and convey states or characteristics.

10. What's the negative form of "is"?

"Isn't" or "is not."


"Is" is an integral verb in English, connecting subjects to their predicates and playing a crucial role in various grammatical constructions. Whether you're a native speaker or learning English as a second language, understanding the definitions and versatile applications of "is" is fundamental. Dive deeper into our extensive linguistic resources to grasp the nuances of English grammar and enrich your language proficiency.

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