The Essence of Was/Were
In the English language, verbs are categorized into two forms: the verb “to be” and regular verbs. Was and were are forms of the verb “to be” and are primarily used in the past tense. Let’s take a closer look at their usage:
- Present tense: am/is/are
- Past tense: was/were
- Anne is a lawyer. (Anne was a lawyer.)
- When I was young, I wanted to be a police officer.
How to Use Was and Were
In essence, both was and were are forms of the verb “to be” used in the past tense, but they have different usage contexts.
In terms of sentence structure, was/were comes after the subject of the sentence and before the noun/adjective.
- Jone was a teacher.
- Jame was very irritable.
Here is a table summarizing the usage of was and were:
|Subject||Affirmative Form (+)||Negative Form (-)||Question Form (?)|
|I||was||was not (wasn’t)||Was + I…?|
|He/She/It||was||was not (wasn’t)||Was + he/she/it…?|
|You/We/They||were||were not (weren’t)||Were + you/we/they…?|
|Singular noun||was||was not (wasn’t)||Was + singular noun…?|
|Plural noun||were||were not (weren’t)||Were + plural noun…?|
- For questions beginning with “WH,” use was/were after the interrogative word. Choose the appropriate form of was/were based on the subject (refer to the table above).
- For questions beginning with was/were, the short answers are: Yes, S + was/were or No, S + wasn’t/weren’t.
- Why was he angry?
- Where were you yesterday?
Special Cases: Always Use Were
There are two cases where we always use were regardless of the subject:
- Second conditional sentences: If + S + V2 (be = were), S + would + (not) V
- Expressing wishes: S + wish + S + were/V2
- I wish I were a doctor.
- If I were you, I would visit Jone’s mom.
Exercise 1: Choose Was or Were
- She was sad yesterday.
- Mom and dad were at the zoo yesterday.
- You were late for school yesterday.
- My sister was at the school.
- It was cold 3 days ago.
Exercise 2: Fill in the Blanks
- Were you busy yesterday? – Yes, I was.
- Was it cool last night? – No, it was hot.
- Last night, I was sad, but now I am happy.
- Yesterday, we were at school.
- Today, they are strong, but last month they were weak.
- Dogs were angry.
Improve your English grammar skills with these articles:
- Cấu trúc It take và Spend: cách dùng và bài tập
- No sooner than: Cách dùng cấu trúc No sooner than chi tiết
- If only là gì? Cách dùng If only
- Otherwise: Cấu trúc, cách dùng Otherwise Tiếng Anh
- Even if: Cấu trúc Even if Tiếng Anh
- Cấu trúc In case và cách dùng
- Cách dùng So, But, However, Therefore
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