I read this poem about the environment from my English textbook

The word 'be' in the sentence "You just keep quiet and be good" makes me confused. Why isn't it "are" to have subject-verb agreement?


"Mummy, oh Mummy, what's going to happen

If all the pollution goes on?"

"Well the world will end up like a second-hand junk-yard,

With all of its treasures quite gone.

The fields will be littered with plastics and tins,

The streams will be covered with foam.

Now throw those soda bottles over the hedge,

Save us from taking them home."

"But Mummy, oh Mummy, if I throw the bottles,

Won't that be polluting the woods?"

"Nonsense! That isn't the same thing at all,

You just keep quiet and be good.

If you're going to start getting silly ideas,

I'll take you home right away.

Because pollution is something that other folk do,

We're just enjoying our day.

  • 2
    Keep and be are both bare infinitives, a form that does not have tense or number. Second person singular commands and second person plural commands both use this form. You (singular) be quiet. You (plural) be quiet. Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 15:48
  • 2
    @AlanCarmack: You mean it's like the imperative sentences, such as "Be careful", "Please be on time"?
    – doquan0
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 16:13
  • 1
    Yes, I think you have it. It's the imperative form of "to be", because the mother is saying "Be quiet!"
    – stangdon
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 16:15

2 Answers 2


You just keep quiet and be good.

Keep and be are imperatives.A noun or a pronoun can be used with imperatives to make it clear who we are speaking to.


Well, I clearly don't understand why you think it must be an "are" instead of "be". If read poem we understand that , "Mummy" the mother of kid is telling him/her something, those lines are just quoted words of what she actually said to her son/daughter about pollution.

If I talk about that one line only. She is saying him to be quiet and be "good" son/daughter. That makes sense, not the one you suggest. Sorry If I sounded harsh/ am wrong.

  • If that sentence was "You just keep quiet and it'll be good", then I would not have any confusion because I can see the subject-verb agreement. Since I'm just an intermediate English student, the original sentence may have a grammar point which I may not have learned.
    – doquan0
    Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 16:20
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    she is asking him to be good, not saying "something else will be good". she didn't mention "you" pronoun redundantly. "You just be quiet and you be good", maybe that is what confused you. In informal ways of speaking, pronouns are often omitted and is still considered correct. Commented Mar 22, 2016 at 20:18

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