Verb to be in the Past – How to use WAS and WERE

Was and were are used in past tense.

Was and Were are both past tenses of the verb to be. The verb be is a tricky one because it is an irregular verb and one that we find ourselves using with great frequency, so it is that much more important that we choose the correct verb for our sentences.

Was and were are the past simple form of be.
We use was and were to talk about the past.
We often use the past simple with certain time expressions,

Keywords of was and were

We often use these time expressions with the past simple:

  • yesterday
  • yesterday morning
  • afternoon
  • evening
  • last night
  • last week
  • last month
  • last night year
  • on day (on Monday)
  • this morning
  • ago
  • in year (in 2004)
  • in month name (in February, in January )
  • number + time (two hours, two days, two weeks, two months)

Positive Form

I, he, she, it, or any singular noun. + was + complement.
We, you, they, or plural nouns. + were + complement.

Examples of Positive Was and were

  • I was sad yesterday.
  • You were late yesterday.
  • John was in bed last night.
  • She was happy yesterday.
  • It was very cold yesterday.
  • He was born in a small village.
  • This is the house I was born in.
  • The weather was good last week.
  • This time last year I was in London.
  • Kamel was my friend at high school.
  • He was elected by a unanimous vote.
  • I was furious when he crashed my car.
  • At midnight last night, Mary was at work.
  • When I was a child, I was scared of cats.
  • It was ten degrees below zero last night.
  • Her hair was tied up with a yellow ribbon.
  • Last year my sun was 22, so he is 23 now.
  • When I was your age, I was already married.
  • I wouldn’t have any more to drink, if I were you.
  • I can remember our wedding as if it were yesterday.
  • The weather was warmer last summer, than it’s now.
  • I feel fine this morning, but I was very tired last night.
  • Today the weather is nice, but yesterday it was very cold.
  • Mark was at work last week because he was ill. He’s better now.
  • Mr. Sami was at the meeting.

Negative Form of was and were

I, he, she, it, or any singular noun. + was + not + complement.
We, you, they, or plural nouns. + were + not + complement.

Examples of Negative Was and were

  • It wasn’t a beautiful night.
  • I was not tired this morning.
  • They weren’t very nice to me.
  • The pen was not on the table.
  • She wasn’t at school yesterday.
  • Sami wasn’t at home last night.
  • we weren’t at the cafe yesterday.
  • It wasn’t cold yesterday, It was hot.
  • I wasn’t happy! I was worried a lot of the time.
  • The course wasn’t easy Last term it was very difficult.
  • The hotel was comfortable, but it wasn’t expensive.
  • We were hungry after the journey, but we weren’t tired.
  • Last year I was at drama school. I wasn’t at university.
  • John was at drama school, too, but he wasn’t at my school in Cardiff.
  • We weren’t happy with the hotel. Our room was very small, and it wasn’t clean.

Question Form of was and were

Was + I. he, she, it + complement + ?.
were + you, we, they. + complement + ?.

Examples of Negative Was and were

  • Was the weather nice when you were on holiday? Yes, it was. OR, No it wasn’t.
  • Your shoes are nice. Were they expensive? Yes, they were.
  • Were you late? No, I wasn’t.
  • Was Sally at work yesterday?’ ‘Yes, she was.
  • ‘Were Suzan and Jolly at the party? No, they weren’t.
  • Was your exam difficult? No, it wasn’t. It was easy.
  • Was the weather nice last week? Yes, it was. It was Mild weather.
  • Were you at home yesterday? No, I wasn’t. I was out.
  • Was Jack ill yesterday? Yes, he was.
  • Were you a naughty child? No, I wasn’t. I was very quiet child.
  • Were you a good student at school? No, I wasn’t. I dropped out of school.
  • Was the museum open? Yes, it was.
  • Was your brother with you? No, he wasn’t. he was working.
  • Were you at your friend’s house last night? Yes, I was.
  • Was it sunny last Monday? No, it wasn’t. It was cold.

WH Question Form

  • Where were you born? I was born in India.
  • How old were you when you went to school? I was five years old.
  • Who was your favorite teacher? Mr. Sami was my favorite teacher; he was patient and very funny.
  • Where were you? I was with my family.
  • Why was he late? He was ill.
  • Why were the tickets expensive? Because they were special tickets.
  • Where was your house? It was In the village.
  • When were you born? I was born in 1984.
  • How was your first day in London? I was very nervous.
  • How old were you when you graduated from university? I was 23.
  • When was your son born? He was born in 2014.
  • What was your father major in college? He studied computer engineering.

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