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Verb "To Be" Past Time

In this lesson of learning English as a Second Language, we shall learn:

  • How to use Verb to be in Past Time.
  • Structure of Verb to be in Past Time.
  • Short Replies


  Video Tutorial in English

Video Tutorial in Urdu

In this lesson , I will not be explaining verb to be, rather comparing Verb to be in Present Time and Past Time. If you don't know what Verb to be is, please visit  Unit 1: Verb to be  on my website and then come to this unit.

As you already know that Verb to be  shows existence or state of any thing / any person.

e.g. I am happy    (no action)   

      She is a doctor.    (no action)

Verb to be does not show any action. Verb to be changes according to Time .

In Present Time  Verb to be    -------->     is , am , are

In Past Time  Verb to be         -------->     was , were

In Future Time Verb to be       -------->    will be

So , if you want to talk about existence, state or simply what something / someone in Past Time , you should use Was / Were.

e.g. When I was a child , I was very active.

       My mother was an officer in a bank.

       I was ill yesterday.

Singular Noun and Plural Noun:

Was is used with singular nouns and Were is used with plural nouns.

e.g.    A bird was on the tree.

          The boys were very intelligent.

Was / Were with Pronouns:

I                                                            We

He                           WAS                     You (singular)               WERE

She                                                        You (plural)

It                                                            They


Comparing Verb to be in Present Time and Past Time

Present Time

Past Time

I am ill today

I was ill yesterday

Aslam is not at home today.

Aslam was not at home yesterday

I am busy today

I was busy yesterday.

Structure of Verb to be in Past Time


Subject    +    Was/Were    +    Complement.

     I                was                   happy yesterday

We             were                 children



Subject     +    Was/Were    +    not    +    Complement

   I                     was                not           happy yesterday

          We                 were                not           sick yesterday         

 Contraction with NOT:  was +  not   = wasn't

                                      were + not   =  weren't


Was/Were    +    Subject    +    Complement?

    Were                you               happy yesterday?

    Was                   he                 sick yesterday?


Short Replies:

Were you absent from school yesterday?        Yes, I was.

Was he at the library?                                     No , he wasn't.

Were they busy yesterday?                             Yes , they were.

Were  they in the class last Thursday?             No , they weren't.

Time Expressions in Present and Past

Today                         Yesterday

This morning                yesterday morning

this afternoon               yesterday afternoon

tonight                         last night

this week                     last week

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