To Be - Past Tense
English Grammar Notes
The past tense of To Be in English has two forms: WAS and WERE
To Be - Affirmative
|I||was||I was tired this morning.|
|You||were||You were very good.|
|He||was||He was the best in his class.|
|She||was||She was late for work.|
|It||was||It was a sunny day.|
|We||were||We were at home.|
|You||were||You were on holiday.|
|They||were||They were happy with their test results.|
To Be - Negative Sentences
The negative of To Be can be made by adding not after the verb (was or were).
|I||was not||I was not tired this morning.|
|You||were not||You were not crazy.|
|He||was not||He was not married.|
|She||was not||She was not famous.|
|It||was not||It was not hot yesterday.|
|We||were not||We were not invited.|
|You||were not||You were not at the party.|
|They||were not||They were not friends.|
To Be - Negative Contractions
The can make negative contractions of the verb To Be in the Past tense by joining the verb (was or were) and n't (e.g. were not = weren't). We don't make a contraction of the subject and the verb (e.g. I was).
|I was not tired this morning.||OR||I wasn't tired this morning.|
|You were not crazy.||OR||You weren't crazy.|
|He was not married.||OR||He wasn't married.|
|She was not famous.||OR||She wasn't famous.|
|It was not hot yesterday.||OR||It wasn't hot yesterday.|
|We were not invited.||OR||We weren't invited.|
|You were not at the party.||OR||You weren't at the party.|
|They were not friends.||OR||They weren't friends.|
To Be - Questions
To create questions with To Be, you put the Verb before the Subject.
|I was late||Was I late?|
|You were sick.||Were you sick?|
|He was surprised.||Was he surprised?|
|She was from Italy.||Was she from Italy?|
|It was a big house.||Was it a big house?|
|We were ready.||Were we ready?|
|You were early.||Were you early?|
|They were busy.||Were they busy?|
Before the verb you can also have a WH- Question word (Why, Who, What, Where etc.)
Were you happy? Yes, I was.
Why were you happy? Because I was promoted at work.
To Be - Short Answers
In spoken English, we usually give short answers in response to questions.
Was he from Japan? - Yes, he was (from Japan). The last part (from Japan) is not necessary. We use shorts answers to avoid repetition, when the meaning is clear.
|Question||Short Answers**||Short Answers|
|Was I late?||Yes, you were.||No, you weren't.|
|Were you sick?||Yes, I was.||No, I wasn't.|
|Was he surprised?||Yes, he was.||No, he wasn't.|
|Was she from Italy?||Yes, she was.||No, she wasn't.|
|Was it a big house?||Yes, it was.||No, it wasn't.|
|Were we ready?||Yes, we were.||No, we weren't.|
|Were you early?||Yes, we were.||No, we weren't.|
|Were they busy?||Yes, they were.||No, they weren't.|
** With To Be, We don't use contractions in affirmative short answers.
See more about Past Tense Short Answers
TO BE in the Past Tense - Summary Chart
If you found this English Grammar about To Be in the Past Tense useful, let others know about it: