To Be - Past Tense

English Grammar Notes

To Be - Affirmative

Subject To Be Examples
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).

Subject To Be Examples
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.

* Notice that we don't have contractions for To Be in Past Tense affirmative sentences.


To Be - Questions

To create questions with To Be, you put the Verb before the Subject.

Affirmative You were happy.
  Subject Verb  
 
Question Were you happy?
  Verb Subject  


Affirmative Question
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?


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.




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Try our interactive game to practice To Be in the Past Tense.

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Last Updated: 02 December 2014
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