The past simple with TO BE

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The past simple with TO BEThe past simple with TO BE. On the previous page, we looked at how to form the past simple by adding +ed or +d to the verb. For example:

  • He played outside yesterday.
  • He lived in New York for 2 years.

On this page, we will look at what happens when we use the verb TO BE in the past. In the present simple, the forms of TO BE are am, are and is. Here are some examples of TO BE in the present simple:

  • I am in Spain.
  • She is 27 years old.
  • They are happy.
  • It is 2pm.

When we change to the past simple, the verb TO BE changes:

  • I am > I was
  • She is > She was
  • They are > They were
  • It is > It was

Here’s a table showing all the changes:

TO BE in the present simpleTO BE in the past simple
I amI was
You areYou were
He isHe was
She isShe was
It isIt was
We areWe were
They areThey were

Now let’s look at making negative sentences. For example:

  • I was in Spain. > I was not in Spain. > I wasn’t in Spain.
  • She was 27 years old. > She was not 27 years old. /  She wasn’t 27 years old.
  • They were happy. > They were not happy. / They weren’t happy.
  • It was 2pm. > It was not 2pm. / It wasn’t 2pm.

Finally, let’s look at forming questions using the past simple with TO BE. This is easy – we just move the ‘be’ to the front:

  • I was in Spain. > Was I in Spain?
  • She was 27 years old. > Was she 27 years old?
  • They were happy. > Were they happy?
  • It was 2pm. > Was it 2pm?

Here’s a review of all parts of the past simple with TO BE.


+?
I wasI was not / I wasn’tWas I…?
You wereYou were not / You weren’tWere you..?
He wasHe was not / He wasn’tWas he…?
She wasShe was not / She wasn’tWas she…?
It wasIt was not / It wasn’tWas it…?
We wereWe were not / We weren’tWere we…?
They wereThey were not / They weren’tWere they…?

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