Was - Were

When to Use Was and Were

Was and were are the past form of verb to be.

Verb to be in the present form is am,is,are.

For example, today is Saturday and I am at home. But two days ago, it was Thursday and I was in the office.

Let's see some more examples:

  • Yesterday I was at home. (Now, I am at school.)
  • She was at the dentist's in the morning. (Now I am at home, I am lying on the sofa.)
  • We were at the grocery store in the afternoon. (Now we are in the garden.)
  • One week ago, I was in Prague for a business trip. (Now, I am back, I am in Germany.)
  • Harry was 23 last year. (Now he is 24.)


Positive sentences (+)

To form positive sentences with was and were, we add was or were after the subject. 

For the subject pronouns I,he,she,it use was. For we,you,they use were after the subject.

I,he,she,it was + rest of the sentence.

  • I was tired yesterday.
  • He was sleepy in the morning.
  • She was very happy last night.
  • It was cold in August.

We,you,they + were + rest of the sentence.

  • We were at the cinema at 3 p.m. yesterday.
  • You were sad in the evening. What happened?
  • They were in Canada last summer.

Negative sentences (-)

To form negative sentences, we add not after was and were. We usually use the short form wasn't or weren't in negative sentences. (wasn't = was not, weren't=were not.)

  • I wasn't at home in the morning. 
  • He wasn't very happy to see me.
  • She wasn't ready to go home.
  • It wasn't rainy yesterday.
  • We weren't in the same class with him at high school.
  • They weren't late for school.

Questions (?)

In questions, we start the sentence with was or were and then add the subject pronoun.

  • Was I rude to you?
  • Was she angry at you?
  • Was he at the party on Saturday?
  • Was it easy?
  • Were we on holiday two weeks ago?
  • Were you tired?
  • Were they in Paris last year?

Short answers                   

Positive short answers:

Yes,I/he/she/it was.

Yes,we/you/they were.


  • A:Was she in Jamaica? B:Yes, she was.
  • A:Were they in the pool? B: Yes,they were.
  • A: Was it fun in the mountains? B:Yes, it was.

Negative short answers:

No,I/he/she/it wasn’t.

No,we/you/they weren't.


A:Was he a delivery man in the past? B:No, he wasn't.

A:Was she in a rock band when she was young? B:No,she wasn't.

A:Were they in the same school with Aly? B:No, they weren't.

Questions with Wh- Question Words (Why, Who, What, Where etc.)

We ask questions with Wh- question words when we expect a different answer than Yes or No.

We use the question words at the beginning of the question and then add was or were.


  • What was her name?
  • Who was with you at the restaurant yesterday?
  • How was the meeting?
  • How was the weather in Denmark last week?
  • Where was the concert?
  • Why were you angry?
  • When were you born?
  • Where were they in the afternoon?

Ready to Practice?

Click here to try an exercise about was-were.

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