Explanations » A1 Grammar Explanations » Was/were – past simple of ‘be’
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  • Was/were – Form

    Grammar chart showing the use of 'was' and 'were' in positive, negative, and question forms, including short answers and common mistakes for the past simple of 'be'.

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    We use was/were as the past simple forms of be. We use was for I/he/she/it and were for you/we/they.

    • I was at home yesterday. 
    • You were late at the meeting. 
    • She was excited about the party. 
    • We were tired after the excursion. 
    • Were they at the conference?

    No positive short forms

    The negative short forms of was not and were not are wasn’t and weren’t, but there are no short forms of was and were in affirmative sentences.

    • Tom was tired, but Susan wasn’t very tired. 
    • Paul and Tom were happy, but we weren’t happy. 

    Was/were – Use

    Was/were are the past forms of am/is/are. Present: am/is = past: was. Present: are = past: were.

    • I‘m happy.I was happy. (am ⇒ was)
    • She is at her office. ⇒ She was at her office. (iswas)
    • You are late.You were late. (are ⇒ were)

    We use was/were to talk about the past. We often use past expressions of time: yesterday, last night, last week, two months ago, etc.

    • She was in Stuttgart last summer.  
    • We were late to the party last night. 

    We use was/were in the expression was/were born. The expression be born is always past (NOT present): was/were born.

    • ‘Where were you born?’ ‘I was born in Sweden.’ blank
    • ‘Where are you born?’ ‘I am born in Sweden.’ blank
    • Mozart was born in 1756.


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