I am not a native speaker and I am experiencing an issue with the word still. I have some sentences here:

a. He is still a good friend.
b. He is still be a good friend.
c. He is still busy.
d. He is still be busy.
e. Japanese is still being taught in schools.
f. Japanese is still be taught in schools.
g. Japanese is still taught in schools.

I guess I know what the above sentences should be without still, but I have no notion why there is a be after still in (b), (d) and (f) despite the fact that I have been googling all day and have found nothing. I now even doubt whether what I know so far is right or not, so I raise some questions:

  1. Are all seven sentences above grammatically right? Why?

  2. If the answer to 1 is yes, what the difference among them, especially the versions with and without be?

  3. If no, how do I correct them?

  • Note that this is not really a question about still. You could remove still from all the sentences and (b), (d) and (f) would still be wrong. [See what I did there?] It's the is verb which makes be wrong. This is probably better suited to our sister site, so I'm transferring it there. Nov 16, 2022 at 17:17
  • Well, if I remove still from all above sentences, I will definitely remove be as well. I didn't post this out of the blue. I have googled and found many sentences with the "is still be + N/adj" form and I just wonder which rule is applied...
    – PhuocHong
    Nov 16, 2022 at 17:32
  • 2
    @PhuocHong: If you want to learn something from this page, I think you should concentrate on why you just wrote that you've googled and found many sentences with the "is still be + N/adj" form. In all the millions of books indexed by Google, there are no relevant instances of the sequences is still be busy OR is still be good, so you / we need to understand how you could come to think those were valid constructions. Nov 16, 2022 at 17:46
  • ...so far as I can see, the words I have no notion why there is a "be" after "still" seem to reflect the primary justification for the question. But since "be" never does validly occur after "still" (nor, so far as I'm aware, does that happen "invalidly" in any particular dialect, or among "uneducated" Anglophones), the question is based on a false premise. Hence it can't really have a proper Answer. Nov 16, 2022 at 17:57
  • 1
    I CV'd because OP gave no indication of where he or she got the quoted examples. (If they are original, then why did OP think that b, d, and f might be correct? That information is important, I think.) Nov 16, 2022 at 18:13

2 Answers 2


"Still" is an adverb and an adjunct. It should be possible to remove it from sentences and for them to continue to make sense.

Lets look at your sentences without the word "still":

a. He is a good friend.
b. He is be a good friend.
c. He is busy.
d. He is be busy.
e. Japanese is being taught in schools.
f. Japanese is be taught in schools.
g. Japanese is taught in schools.

You should recognise that (a) (c) (e) and (g) are grammatically correct.

(b) (d) and (f) are incorrect because "X is be Y" is never acceptable English.

Inserting "still" doesn't change this. That is, the word "still" is actually irrelevant to this question!


I upvoted @JamesK's answer, but let me add some additional explanation.

The problem with "He is still be a good friend", or "He is be a good friend", is that these sentences contain two verbs in the same clause. Just as you shouldn't say "He run jump to the bus": You can't just lump two verbs into the same clause. (You can have two verbs in the same sentence, of course. Like, "He ran AND jumped on the bus" or "He ran to the bus and jumped on." But you can't just stick in two verbs without at least putting a conjunction between them or creating two separate clauses. (An infinitive is a special case that is a little more complicated.))

As James K says, adding an adverb to the sentence doesn't change this rule. The sentence should still be valid if you drop the adverb.

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