Быть (predicate nouns)

by Don  

The verb быть is also used in sentences with predicate nouns. What is a predicate? In copular sentences (“to be” type sentences), the subject is the thing you are talking about. The predicate is everything else:

John wants to be a doctor.
John will be a doctor.
John was a doctor.
John is a doctor.

A noun that is in the predicate is, cleverly enough, called a predicate noun. Predicate nouns in Russian normally occur in the instrumental case. The only exception is when it is directly a part of a present tense is/am/are phrase, in which case the predicate noun is in the nominative case.

Иван хочет быть врачом.
Иван будет врачом.
Иван был врачом.
Иван — врач.

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