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To Be - Past Tense

 The past tense of To Be in English has two forms: WAS and WERE

To Be - Affirmative

SubjectTo BeExamples
Iwaswas tired this morning.
YouwereYou were very good.
HewasHe was the best in his class.
ShewasShe was late for work.
ItwasIt was a sunny day.
WewereWe were at home.
YouwereYou were on holiday.
TheywereThey 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).

SubjectTo BeExamples
Iwas notwas not tired this morning.
Youwere notYou were not crazy.
Hewas notHe was not married.
Shewas notShe was not famous.
Itwas notIt was not hot yesterday.
Wewere notWe were not invited.
Youwere notYou were not at the party.
Theywere notThey 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).

was not tired this morning.ORwasn't tired this morning.
You were not crazy.ORYou weren't crazy.
He was not married.ORHe wasn't married.
She was not famous.ORShe wasn't famous.
It was not hot yesterday.ORIt wasn't hot yesterday.
We were not invited.ORWe weren't invited.
You were not at the party.ORYou weren't at the party.
They were not friends.ORThey weren't friends.

To Be - Questions

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


I was lateWas 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.

QuestionShort 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

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