Translation of -be in English:


was/were (in a state)

auxiliary verb

  • 1

    was/were (in a state)
    used to
    might have
    may have
    could have
    would have
    ‘Wabe enezizathu zakhe ezamenza wesaba ukubuya emini’ He had his reasons to fear returning in the afternoon. (Literally: He was in a state of being with reasons …)
    ‘Babe bephuma naye ngomnyango ongemuva’ They came out with him through the back door. (Literally: They were in a state of coming out …)
  • 2

    will/shall (be in a state)
    will have
    shall have
    ‘Umqhudelwano uzokube use-Stellenbosch’ The competition will be in Stellenbosch
    ‘Kuzobe sekungokwesibili evela kule nkantolo ngala macala’ It will be the second time that he appears in this court in connection with these charges


This auxiliary verb actually indicates a continuous action or process, either in the remote past (sense 1) or in the future (sense 2). The meaning of this verb is not always reflected in English translations. Note that "-be" can also be the past tense of the copulative verb "-ba".