Use of Was and Were – Rules, Examples (Sentences) and Exercises

Use of Was and Were – Rules, Examples (Sentences) and Exercises. Meaning and Use of the auxiliary verbs was, were in the sentences. How to use ‘verb to be – was, were’ in English Grammar.

We use the auxiliary verb ‘was and were’ as the main verb and helping verb in the sentences. Was and were are used in the simple past tense as the main verb and as helping verb in the sentences of past continuous tense. For example;

  • He was a great men.
  • She was fine.
  • It was hot yesterday.
  • You were able to work.
  • It was getting dark.
  • They were green trees.
  • She was sleeping there.
  • It was raining yesterday.
  • We were unable to respond.
  • I was coming from the office.
  • You were not here yesterday.

Note: The auxiliary verbs was and were has been used in the above sentences. These are the past tense forms of verb to be.

In this post, you will learn about the use of was and were with rules examples and exercises. The use of was and were has been explained in detail.

Use of Was and Were - Rules, Examples (Sentences) and Exercises
Use of Was and Were – Rules and Examples

Use of Was and Were

The forms of verb to be – Was and Were are used as the auxiliary verbs and linking verbs to describe the persons or things in the past tense. ‘Was’ is the singular form of verb be and ‘Were’ is the plural form of the verb to be. For examples;

Use of Was

  • He was a great leader.
  • Mr. Jack was busy yesterday.
  • I was not free yesterday.
  • It was very dark in the room.
  • My dad was on the bus.
  • I was not able to call you.
  • There was a student in the class.
  • It was a great experience to come here.
  • It was your turn but you didn’t come.
  • That carpenter was very hardworking.

Use of Were

  • You were a bright student.
  • We were very afraid yesterday.
  • They were with her parents.
  • We were very busy yesterday.
  • Those men were very helpful.
  • They were not my friends.
  • These trees were green.
  • My pictures were old.
  • Those parts of my car were old.

Note: We use the past tense form of verb be – was and were as Auxiliary Verbs (main verbs) in the simple past tense and past continuous tense. Was and were are used as Main Verbs and Helping Verbs. See the examples below;

Was and Were as Main Verbs Was and Were as Helping Verbs
He was happy. He was running.
She was sad. She was going.
It was dark. It was raining.
John was there. The boys were driving.
The boy was upset. The girls were dancing.
The girl was a singer. We were walking.
I was aware of that. They were studying.
The letter was for you. The men were fighting.
We were ready. Those dogs were barking.

Note: In the sentences of above table, was and were have been used as the main verb and helping verb. You can read the rules and use of was and were in detail below.

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Was and Were Rules

Rule (1) – ‘Was‘ is the singular form of verb to be. It is used with singular nouns, first person pronoun ‘I’ and third person singular pronoun; he, she and it.

Examples:

  1. He was in the library.
  2. She was her little sister.
  3. It was dark outside.
  4. John was ready to fly a kite.
  5. I was on the bus.
  6. This man was honest.
  7. That house was old.
  8. The ship was on fire.
  9. The girl was singing.

Rule (2) – ‘Were‘ is the plural form of the verb to be. It is used with the plural nouns and pronouns.

Examples:

  • We were tired.
  • You were busy.
  • They were naughty.
  • The boys were afraid.
  • The girls were beautiful.
  • Those cows were hungry.
  • These children were thirsty.
  • You and I were not upset.

Rule (3)Was and Were are used with demonstrative pronouns and adjectives.

Examples:

  • This was the last check point.
  • That was red carpet.
  • Those were our players.
  • These were yellow shirts.
  • That man was mad..
  • This book was hers.
  • These children were hungry.
  • Those cats were black.

Remember: Was and Were are used in the past continuous tense as the helping verb with the ing form of the verb. For example;

  • I was searching my purse when you called me.
  • He was running on the ground.
  • They were planning to buy a new umbrella.

Use of Was and Were with Examples

We use was and were in the past tense. The auxiliary verbs was and were are used to express the facts and condition of a person or a thing in the past.

Read the uses of was and were given below.

Was and Were in Simple Past Tense

We use was and were in the simple past tense to describe the person or thing in the past. Was and Were are the past tense form of verb to be.

Examples:

  • The boy was not able to call.
  • I was happy yesterday.
  • They were brave soldiers.
  • Were you an honest man?
  • Where was he yesterday?
  • Were you not there when I came?
  • They were clever girls.
  • She was not in the park.

Use of Was and Were in the Past Continuous Tense

We use was and were in the past continuous tense to talk about the actions that were happening in the past. Was and Were are used as the helping verbs. For example;

Examples:

  • She was helping the poor when I saw her.
  • They were cleaning the rooms yesterday.
  • I was trying to to catch the thief.
  • She was not applying for that post.
  • The CEO of the company was managing the company very well.
  • George was not fighting with his brother yesterday.

To describe past condition

We use the auxiliary verb was and verb to describe the first condition of a person or thing. The nouns or pronouns used after was were work as complement.

Examples:

  • I was ill.
  • She was sad.
  • This machine was out of order.
  • My father was happy.
  • That shopkeeper was not honest.
  • The men was not blind.
  • Were you tired yesterday?

To tell someone’s location in the past

Was and were are used to tell someone’s location in the past. We tell where a person or thing was by using was and were.

Examples:

  • He was in the school.
  • The players were on the ground.
  • She was at the studio.
  • These boys were on the roof.
  • The men were on the road.

Was and Were in Passive Voice

When we use was and were in the sentences of past continuous tense, we change was and were into was being and were being in Passive Voice.

Examples:

Active Voice: I was writing an essay.
Passive Voice: An essay was being written by me.

  • The man was being beaten by the police officer.
  • I was being invited to the by my friend.
  • An elephant was being caught by the forest officer.
  • A car was being washed by the boy.
  • These children were being taught by my sister.

Read also;

Affirmative Sentences of was and were

To make affirmative sentences of was and were, follow the rules and sentence structure given below.

Person Singular Plural
First I was Were
Second You were You were
Third He/She/It was They were

Rules:

  • First of all, write the subject.
  • Write was or were.
  • Write noun or adjective
  • Write the other words if there are any.

Sentence Structure: Subject + was/were + noun/adjective (complement)

Examples:  

  1. I was in my room.
  2. Peter was ready to start.
  3. We were afraid.
  4. The children were asleep.
  5. It was me who helped you.
  6. This letter was for you.
  7. It was Sunday yesterday.
  8. That train was on fire.
  9. You were able to find him.
  10. He was about to clear his dues.
  11. It was my turn to read the letter.
  12. There was a dangerous monkey in the forest.
  13. My plan was to visit Mumbai.
  14. He was to open the door.
  15. It was your friend who killed the lion.
  16. I was waiting for the train when you phoned me.
  17. It was raining outside.
  18. He was reading the use of was and were.

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Negative Sentences of Was and Were

Negative Sentences of Was and Were are made according to the following sentence structure and rules:

Person Singular  Plural
First I was not We were not
Second You were not We were not
Third He/She/It was not They were not

Rules:

  • First of all, we write the subject.
  • After the subject, we write was or were according to the subject
  • After was and were, we write noun or adjective as a complement.
  • Put ‘not’ after Was and Were
  • You may write it wasn’t and weren’t.
  • Write the other words.

Structure: Subject + was/were + not + noun/adjective + other words

Examples:

  1. I was not happy today.
  2. She was not asleep in the room
  3. The ship was not out of order
  4. The children were not in the garden.
  5. She was not at playland.
  6. My shoes were not old.
  7. His father was not a lawyer.
  8. The questions were not difficult to me.
  9. He was not about to leave from the house
  10. It wasn’t true that he would not come.
  11. This boy wasn’t angry with you.
  12. At last he wasn’t at library.
  13. Everything was in good order.
  14. There weren’t apples in the basket.
  15. It was about to rain there.

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Interrogative Sentences of Was and Were

To make interrogative sentence of was and were, follow the rules and sentence structure given below;

Yes-No Type Questions

  • Put Was or Were at the beginning of the sentence.
  • Write the subject.
  • Write the noun or Pronoun
  • Write the other words.
  • Put the question mark (?) at the last of the sentence.
Person Singular Plural
First Was I Were we
Second Were you Were you
Third Was He/She/It Were they

Sentence Structure: Was/Were + Subject + Noun/Pronoun + ?

Examples:

  • Was she at the hospital yesterday?
  • Was your son busy yesterday?
  • Were you able to drive a car?
  • Was he about to play cricket?
  • Were Peter and Jack angry with each other?
  • Was she absent in the school last week?
  • Were they about to be free?
  • Was your brother back to home yesterday?
  • Was I happy yesterday?
  • Was James sad?
  • Was your friend drinking water?

Wh-word Type Questions

To make wh-word type questions of was and were, we follow the following steps and sentence structure.

Steps:

  • First of all, write question word at the beginning of the sentence.
  • Now write was or were according to the subject.
  • Write the subject.
  • Write the noun or adjective.
  • Put other words
  • Put the question word at the last of the sentence.

Examples:

  1. Why were you sad yesterday?
  2. Who was with you on the road?
  3. How many boys were there in the classroom?
  4. What was his passion in his childhood?
  5. Why was the man in his office?
  6. When was your son’s birthday?
  7. Where were you when I reached home?
  8. How was your weekend?
  9. What was your plan to have a party?
  10. Who was the best player?
  11. Who was the first president of America?
  12. Why were you sad yesterday?
  13. Who was born in 1991?
  14. When was she happy with her family?
  15. What opinion about the company rules?
  16. Who was the best cricket player in your team?
  17. Why were you late to school yesterday?
  18. How many lions were there in the cage?
  19. When was your last birthday?
  20. Who was able to win the match?

Read also:

Interrogative Negative Sentences

To make interrogative negative sentences of was and were, we put ‘not’ after the subject.

Examples:

  • Was she not honest?
  • Were you not there?
  • Were they not good soldiers?
  • Was I not with you yesterday?
  • Was she not a teacher?
  • Were these people not in the cinema hall?
  • Who was not eligible for this post?
  • Why were they not with you?
  • Who was not present today?
  • Why was your mother not angry with you?

Was and Were Exercises

Fill in the blanks with verb to be – was and were.

  • I _______ not there yesterday.
  • These children ________ naughty.
  • He ________ in the classroom.
  • They ________ with the players.
  • I _______ about to leave.
  • Those dogs _______ not dangerous.
  • George _________ not sad yesterday.
  • He ________ late to school.
  • Yes we were ________ not at home.
  • The boys ________ playing Hockey.
  • _________ you not a little child?
  • _________ she a good driver?
  • Where _______ they on Monday?
  • Who ________ my friend?

Conclusion

In this post, you have read the use of was and were with rules examples and exercises. Was and Were are the past tense form of primary auxiliary verb to be. Was and Were are use to tell someone’s location, condition and past work. We should be careful while using was and were. If you are learning English grammar, you must learn primary auxiliary verbs. We can learn to make small sentences using primary auxiliary verbs. It may help you learn English.

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