easy grammar · Question · tenses · Verb

Easy Grammar: Was and Were

Was and were are used for the past. (To be precise: in the past simple, and also in the past progressive tense.)

Now we’ll talk about was and were only in the past simple, so that means was and were are the only verbs in your sentence.

This is really easy.

When to Use

You can use was and were for any time in the past:

  • Yesterday
  • Last night
  • Last year
  • Last summer
  • Ten years ago.

(These are just some examples.)

Examples of Use

Here are some examples for you to study to see the difference with the present moment.

at home

Today I am at home.

Yesterday I was at home.

For I, you always use was.

If I speak about you, I have to use were.

You are at home today.

Yesterday you were at work.

For a third person, I have to use was again.

Ryan is at the shop today.

Ryan was at the shop last week.

The same with a woman:

Laurie was at the shop last Tuesday.

For we, use were:

We are at the football stadium this afternoon.

We were at the bus stadium early this morning.

For they, use were:

They are in the library now.

They were in the library until late last night.

at home3

Which Goes with What? Was is for? Were is for?

Here is a handy table, that shows you which pronoun goes with what and which with were:

Was Were
I You
He, she, it We

at home2

Negatives with Was and Were:

Just add not. So: was not, and were not.

A note about speaking:

When you speak, you will almost always use the contracted form, so wasn’t and weren’t. (When you write, you can also write the contractions.)

Here are some examples of wasn’t and weren’t:
Paul and Tonya weren’t at the party yesterday. Why didn’t they come?

I wasn’t home last weekend. I stayed with a friend.

Your boyfriend and you weren’t in the café yesterday afternoon, were you?

at home4

Questions with Was and Were

Also easy. Just put the Was and Were first, and then the subject of your sentences.

So your sentences will look like this:

Was/were + subject + rest of your question + ?

Don’t forget the question mark!

Here are some examples of was and were in questions:
Were you at the beach this morning?

Was Granny in the café with you Saturday afternoon?

Were you blond when you were a child?

Questions with Was Not and Were Not

And lastly, you can also ask a question with was not and were not (negative questions).

Just add not to your question, in this way:

Weren’t you in the lecture this morning?

Why weren’t they at the party yesterday?

Wasn’t it too cold last weekend for a picnic?


Now you can do an easy quiz. was and were


Here are some more quizzes with was and were:

Where was everyone?

Auxiliary Verbs (Includes other verbs)

Past Progressive: In the Park

Still have questions about the subject of this post? Let other learners know in a comment.

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