Past Simple: ‘to be’

Like the present simple, there are different rules for the irregular verb be, which describes the state of being in the simple statement I am. To make the present simple ‘I am’ into past simple, remember to change ‘am’ to ‘was’ when referring to one person (‘I’, ‘she/he’), and ‘were’ when referring to a group (plural).

Basic Positive Past Simple Form of ‘Be’

Present Tense Past Simple Tense
I am cold. I was cold.
He is cold. He was cold.
She is cold. She was cold.
It is cold. It was cold.
They are cold. They were cold.209

Basic Negative Past Simple Form of ‘Be’

Long Form Short Form
I was not there.

She was not there.

He was not there.

It was not there.

They were not there.

I wasn’t there.

She wasn’t there.

He wasn’t there.

It wasn’t there.

They weren’t there.

Question Form of Past Simple Form of ‘Be’

  • Was I included?
  • Was she at the party?
  • Was he in the car?
  • Was it fun?
  • Were they happy?

‘Wh’ questions with the Past simple of ‘to be’

  • Where was I when this happened?
  • Why was she upset?
  • Who was he talking to?
  • When was it started?
  • What were they supposed to do?
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