'Was' and 'Were' - English Grammar Lessons

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In this lesson we will learn how to use ‘was’ and ‘were’ correctly.


‘Was’ and ‘were’ are the past of the verb ‘to be’. We use them the same way we use the verb ‘to be’, but when we want to talk about the past.

Mark: ‘Was’ is the past of ‘is’ or ‘am’; both are used to refer to a singular object or a person. For example, I was chubby when I was a kid.

Zen: That’s hard to believe, Mark. You are very slim. Were your brothers chubby, too?

Mark: No. They have always been skinny. But my sister was chubby, like me. When we were teenagers, there was always something sweet or fatty to eat. Oh, and there was always soda, too.

Zen: Wow! But, today, she looks incredible. Anyway, ‘were’ is the past of ‘are’, right? We use it to talk about plurals. My parents were with me when I got my surgery.

Mark: Correct. But, as always, there is an exception. When we use hypothetical conditionals, we will always use ‘were’, no matter who the subject is. For example, ‘If I were you, I would be more careful when I cross the street’. Normally, I’d say ‘I was’, but since it is a conditional, I say ‘if I were’, or ‘if she were’, etc.

Zen: Well, then, I have to say that if my mom were here, she would tell me to stop talking to you and do my homework.

Mark: That’s probably right, Zen. But you could say that we were studying English…

Conversation: #1

Rocky: Where were you last night?

Max: I was home. I was reading a great book.

Rocky: It was raining so much last night; perfect weather to read. But I was out on the streets.

Max: I would have been too, if I were a cop like you.

Rocky: It sucks man. I just want to stay in bed when it rains.

Conversation: #2

Rocky: Hi, Max. I called you this morning. Weren’t you home?

Max: I sure was. What time did you call?

Rocky: At around 10.

Max: Oh! I was taking a shower. I couldn’t hear the phone.

Rocky: Oh. Wasn’t your mom home?

Max: Not this morning. She was at the hairdresser.

Conversation: #3

Rocky: Was the movie you watched any good?

Max: It was great. I think there were few movies as good as that one in all the festival.

Rocky: I was working, as usual. But if I were a fan of Quentin Tarantino, I would have been there.

Max: Man, there was a girl there who was enjoying the movie more than I was.

Rocky: There was? That’s incredible!! I thought you were his biggest fan!!

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