Simple Past Tense With ‘TO BE’

The verb ‘to be ( am, is, are )’ has two forms in the past; was and were.




Present Past
am, is   was
are  were
Subject   To Be
I was
You were
He was
She was
It was
We were
You were
They were




Using the verb ‘to be’ in the simple past tense:

POSITIVE FORM (+) :  Subject + TO BE ( was/were ) +…

NEGATIVE FORM (-) : Subject + TO BE ( was/were ) + NOT + …

QUESTION FORM (?) : TO BE ( was/were ) + Subject + …

NEGATIVE QUESTION FORM (?) : TO BE ( was/were ) + NOT + Subject + …

SHORT ANSWER FORMS : ( + / – ) : YES / NO + Subject + TO BE ( was/were ) or TO BE ( was/were ) + NOT

POSITIVE (+) NEGATIVE (-) POSITIVE QUESTION (?) NEGATIVE QUESTION (?)
He was in the garden He was not ( wasn’t) in the garden Was he in the garden Was not ( Wasn’t ) he in the garden
She was in the garden She was not ( wasn’t) in the garden Was she in the garden Was not ( Wasn’t ) she in the garden
It was in the garden It was not ( wasn’t) in the garden Was it in the garden Was not ( Wasn’t ) it in the garden
I was in the garden I was not ( wasn’t) in the garden Was I in the garden Was not ( Wasn’t ) I in the garden
You were in the garden You were not ( weren’t ) in the garden Were you in the garden Were not ( Weren’t ) you in the garden
We were in the garden We were not ( weren’t ) in the garden Were we in the garden Were not ( Weren’t ) we in the garden
They were in the garden They were not ( weren’t ) in the garden Were they in the garden Were not ( Weren’t ) they in the garden

Short answers with to be:

POSITIVE SHORT ANSWER NEGATIVE SHORT ANSWER
Yes, he was. No, he wasn’t.
Yes, she was. No, she wasn’t.
Yes, it was. No, it wasn’t.
Yes, I was. No, I wasn’t.
Yes, you were. No, you weren’t.
Yes, we were. No, we weren’t.
Yes, they were. No, they weren’t.
Examples:

  • The bus was so crowded. I had to get off the bus early.
  • The movie wasn’t exciting.  Everybody  was bored.
  • You weren’t late. Actually you came 5 minutes early.
  • My father was not sure exactly what the car’s problem  was.
  • We were good at basketball. We won all the matches last year.
  • I wasn’t in Egypt yesterday.
  • Her effort was admirable.
  • It was cold.
  • Susan was quite shy when she was a child.
  • Weren’t you hungry?
  • The show was impressive.
  • We weren’t late.
  • Was he sick?
  • I wasn’t hungry.
  • The lesson wasn’t interesting.
  • Was not she the girl we had seen before in London?
  • He wasn’t a police.
  • We were angry.
  • The child was so hungry.
  • Were you tired?
  • Who were you?
  • Why was she angry?
  • I was a primary school students last year.
  • They weren’t at home last week.

Notes:

Do not forget to pay attention to use of some subject pronouns ( such as I, You ) while answering questions.

Examples:A: Was I sleepy yesterday?
B: No, you weren’t. / Yes, you were.
B: No, you weren’t sleepy yesterday.  / Yes, you were sleepy yesterday.

A: Were you at home last Sunday?
B: No, I wasn’t or No, we weren’t. / Yes, I was or Yes, we were.
B: No, I wasn’t at home last Sunday or No, we weren’t at home last Sunday.
B: Yes, I was at home last Sunday or Yes, we were at home last Sunday.

Notes:

We can also use a question word (Who, What, Why etc.) in past tense.

Question Words (who, what, why, etc.) + TO BE ( was/were ) + subject + …

Examples:

  • Why was she late?
  • Who was he?
  • Where were they?

2 thoughts on “Simple Past Tense With ‘TO BE’

  • June 17, 2017 at 1:40 am
    Permalink

    Explanations on usage and examples of Simple Past tense . Improve your understanding and use English tenses more naturally!

    Reply

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