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Lesson 9
be - past tense

When the verb “be” is in the past tense, it takes two different forms: was and were


9a. be - past tense ✍️


I was ______. 

You were ______.

He was ______.

She was ______.  

It was ______. 


We were ______. 

You were ______.




They were ______

After the verb, you may use an adjective,  a subject complement, or a prepositional phrase.

9a. Examples

Teacher Paul / Paul Lawrence
  • I was your teacher. 
  • You were my student. 
  • It was cold outside. 
  • I was outside. 
  • There was snow on the ground. 
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  • He was a student.
  • There were other students. 
  • They were all in a classroom. 
  • It was warm in the classroom. 
  • The teacher was somewhere in the classroom. 

9b. be - past tense - negative ✍️

To form the negative for the verb “be” in the past tense, just add the word “not” after the verb:  was + not / were + not 


I was not ______. 

You were not ______. 

He was not ______. 

She was not ______. 

It was not ______. 


We were not ______. 

You were not ______. 




They were not ______. 



I wasn’t ______. 

You weren’t ______. 

He wasn’t ______. 

She wasn’t ______. 

It wasn’t _______. 


We weren’t _______. 

You weren’t ______.

They weren’t ______.


9b. Examples

Teacher Paul
  • I wasn’t in the classroom. 
  • We weren’t in school.  
  • The temperature was not warm. 
  • It wasn’t dark outside. 
  • There weren’t a lot of people at the park. 
profile, beach, teenager-7579739.jpg
  • They weren’t in school. 
  • The school wasn’t open. 
  • The beach wasn’t very crowded. 
  • It wasn’t cold outside. 

9c. be - past tense - questions ✍️

To form the question for the verb “be” in the past, put the verb before the subject. 


Was I ______? 

Were you ______? 

Was he ______? 

Was she ______? 

Was it ______? 


Were we ______? 

Were you ______? 

Were they ______?


Don’t forget to put the question mark at the end: ?

9c. Examples

fish market, seafood, nature-428058.jpg
  • Was the market open yesterday? 
  • Was it busy?
  • Who was there? (Notice that this question puts the subject before the verb.) 
meeting, business, brainstorming-1453895.jpg
  • Were they at work on Monday? 
  • Were they at a meeting? 
  • Was a cat under the table? 
  • Was the cat awake? 

Practice your knowledge with this exercise. You may print the PDF by clicking here: be – past tense

Part A – Directions:  Write the correct form of the verb “be” in the past tense: was or were


  1. You __________ at home this morning. 

  2. My wife __________ at work. 

  3. The lights __________ on this morning. 

  4. The cat __________ at the door. 

  5. Our books __________ on the shelf. 

  6. The information __________ available online. 

  7. The water __________ very hot. 

  8. The bread _________ on the table. 

  9. Several trucks __________ outside. 

  10. There __________ a problem with the car. 


Part B – Directions:  Write the correct form of the verb “be” negative in the past tense: wasn’t or weren’t


  1. You __________ at work this morning. 

  2. My wife __________ at home. 

  3. The car __________ in the garage. 

  4. The dog  __________ outside. 

  5. Our shoes __________ in the closet. 

  6. The battery  __________ good. 

  7. The water __________ very cold. 

  8. The milk _________ in the refrigerator. 

  9. Several cars __________ at the gas station. 

  10. There __________ a problem with the engine. 


Part C – Directions: Use the verb “be” to form a question in the past tense. 


  1. __________ there enough coffee for everyone? 

  2. __________ you happy about the announcement? 

  3. __________ it wet outside? 

  4. How __________ the roads? 

  5. How __________ the meeting? 

  6. Who __________ at the party? 

  7. __________ there police at the accident? 

  8. __________ I there on that day? 

  9. __________ you there? 

  10. __________ the oven on?

In Lesson Ten, you will learn how to use demonstrative pronouns: this, that, these, and those

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