Unit 6.1

Past simple of To be

Verbs

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Introduction

The verb to be is essential in grammar. It is an auxiliary verb and it is one of the irregular verbs.

To express situations that occurred in the past and have now concluded, we use the past tense of the verb.

Form

The verb to be is one of the verbs with an irregular past form.

Affirmative

Its structure, in the affirmative form, is:
Subject + to be (Past tense) + …

Subject To Be
I was
You were
He was
She was
It was
We were
You were
They were

Negative

Its structure, in the negative form, is:
Subject + to be (Past tense) + not + …

  • In the negative, the auxiliary verb “did” is not used.
Subject To Be + not Short form
I was not wasn’t
You were not weren’t
He was not wasn’t
She was not wasn’t
It was not wasn’t
We were not weren’t
You were not weren’t
They were not weren’t

Interrogative

Its structure, in the interrogative form, is:
To be (Past tense) + subject + …?

  • In the interrogative, the auxiliary verb “did” is not used:
To Be Subject Question Mark
Was I ?
Were you ?
Was he ?
Was she ?
Was it ?
Were we ?
Were you ?
Were they ?

Example

Affirmative

  • was a good football player.
  • He was here 2 minutes ago.
  • We were at the beach earlier.

Negative

  • wasn’t a good football player
  • He wasn’t here 2 minutes ago.
  • We weren’t at the beach earlier.

Interrogative

  • Was I a good football player?
  • Was he here 2 minutes ago?
  • Were you at the beach earlier?

Use

We use the past simple of to be as a linking word between the subject and a complement or adjective. It provides further information about the subject itself in the past.

Summary

We use the past simple to express situations that occurred in the past and have now concluded. The verb to be has an irregular past form.

We can use it in its different forms:

  • Affirmative: We start with the subject followed by to be in the past tense:
    I was, you were, he was, she was, it was, we were, you were and they were.
  • Negative: We start with the subject followed by to be in the past tense and not:
    I was not, you were not, he was not, she was not, it was not, we were not, you were not and they were not.
  • Interrogative: We start with to be in the past tense followed by the subject (the sentence ends with a question mark):
    was I…?, were you…?, was he…?, was she…?, was it…?, were we…?, were you…? and were they…?.

For example:
— Affirmative: “There was enough sugar to make the cake.”
— Negative: “There wasn’t enough sugar to make the cake.”
— Interrogative: “Was there enough sugar to make the cake?

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

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