English Grammar – How To Teach Past Simple Of To Be

Wondering how to introduce the Past Simple of To Be? Look at the grammar tables and exercises below!

Past Simple Tense To Be

This table shows how the verb To Be changes from Present Simple Tense to Past Simple Tense.

Present SimplePast Simplenoun/ adjective
I amI wasa student/ happy.
You areYou werea student/ happy.
He isHe wasa student/ happy.
She isShe wasa student/ happy.
It isIt waslong.
We areWe werestudents/ happy.
You areYou werestudents/ happy.
They areThey werestudents/ happy.

Grammar Practice

1. Change the verb To Be into Past Simple Tense.

e.g. I am very happy. → I was very happy.
  1. You are a good doctor.
  2. He is my friend.
  3. The rope is too short.
  4. They are clever students.
  5. We are happy.
  6. The coffee is sweet.

To Be (Past Simple – Negative)

Iwas not (wasn’t)a student/ happy.
Youwere not (weren’t)a student/ happy.
Hewas not (wasn’t)a student/ happy.
Shewas not (wasn’t)a student/ happy.
Itwas not (wasn’t)long.
Wewere not (weren’t)students/ happy.
Youwere not (weren’t)students/ happy.
Theywere not (weren’t)students/ happy.

2. Change the positive sentence into negative.

e.g. I was very sad yesterday. → I was not (wasn’t) very sad yesterday.
  1. The bread was very soft.
  2. You were right!
  3. Bella’s dress was really beautiful.
  4. Tom was very funny.
  5. We were surprised.
  6. The ball was new.

3. Use the shortened version of was not/ were not.

e.g. Fried was not happy. → Fried wasn’t happy.
  1. My coat was not very warm.
  2. The water was not cold.
  3. His dog was not brown.
  4. We were not there on Sunday.
  5. You were not happy.
  6. John and Toshi were not at the party.

To Be (Past Simple) – Positive Interrogative (Question)

WasIa student/ happy?
Wereyoua student/ happy?
Washea student/ happy?
Wasshea student/ happy?
Werewestudents/ happy?
Wereyoustudents/ happy?
Weretheystudents/ happy?

4. Underline the correct word.

e.g. Was/ Were Sammy sad?
  1. My parents was/ were on holiday.
  2. Was/ Were Karina sleepy?
  3. Paula wasn’t/ weren’t ready for the test.
  4. Was/ Were they at home?
  5. Wasn’t/ Weren’t it too late?
  6. There was/ were many people.
To Be (Past Simple) – Negative Interrogative (Question)To Be (Past Simple) – Contracted Form
Was I not a student/ happy?Wasn’t I a student/ happy?
Were you not a student/ happy?Weren’t you a student/ happy?
Was he not a student/ happy?Wasn’t he a student/ happy?
Was she not a student/ happy?Wasn’t she a student/ happy?
Was it not long?Wasn’t it long?
Were we not students/ happy?Weren’t we students/ happy?
Were you not students/ happy?Weren’t you students/ happy?
Were they not students/ happy?Weren’t they students/ happy?

5. Fill in the blanks. More than one correct answer is possible.

e.g. Christa didn’t study. She wasn’t ready for the test.
  1. Mike read the book. He ………. happy and told everybody about it.
  2. My cats ………. very hungry. They ate everything.
  3. You ………… very good at football. That’s why we didn’t want to play with you.
  4. Naomi and her brother ………. thirsty. They didn’t finish their tea.
  5. Roxanna wrote me a letter for the first time. I ……….. surprised.
  6. The rope ………… too short. We had to buy a new one.