Past Simple Tense be: was / were (English / ESL Video)

Past Simple Tense be: was/were (English / ESL Video)

Synopsis of English / ESL Video

Teach your beginner students the past simple tense be: was/were with this original & innovative video and introduce your learners to timelines.

Title of English / ESL Video

Past Simple Tense be: was/were

Target English Grammar

Past simple tense be: was/were

Student Proficiency Level

Beginner level grammar

Suggested Courses

General English


– Play the video in class after delivering a warm-up activity first.
– Pause the video whenever the narrator asks students a question to give students time to answer. For example, after elicitations and concept checking questions (CCQs).

Summary of English Grammar: Past Simple Tense be – was/were

Approximate chronological order:

Rules and Explanation:

Elicitation of positive example sentence: He was short.
Elicitation of negative example sentence: He wasn’t short.
*Pause the video after the question to give students time to answer.

Meaning / Function (Definition):

We use the simple past to talk about the past.

Affirmative and Negative Sentences

wasn’t = was not (contraction)

Positive and Negative Examples

– Positive example sentence: I was a police officer.
Negative example question: I wasn’t a police officer.

– Positive example sentence: She was beautiful.
Negative example question: She wasn’t beautiful.

– Positive example sentence: It was expensive!
Negative example question: It wasn’t expensive!

– Positive example sentence: We were at home.
Negative example question: We weren’t at home.

– Positive example sentence: They were in Russia.
Negative example question: They weren’t in Thailand

Form / Structure

Singular vs. Plural

The simple past of “be” has two forms: was and were.
Elicit from students: Which one is singular and which one is plural? (Was is singular and were is plural.)

But sometimes English doesn’t always follow the rules. The pronoun you can be singular or plural, but we use were for both singular you and plural you.

– Positive example sentence: You were late to school.
Negative example question: You weren’t late to school.

Wh- Question

– Example question: Why were you late to school?

Yes/No Question Form

– Example question: Were you late to school?
The short answer for a yes/no question is:
Yes, I was.
No, I wasn’t.

Further Example Wh- Questions and Yes/No Questions

When were they in Russia?
Were they in Russia?
The short answers are:
Yes, they were.
No, they weren’t.

How much was it?
Was it expensive?
(Elicit) And what are the short answers?
Yes, it was.
No, it wasn’t.


The negatives are:
was = wasn’t
were = weren’t

was is singular.
were is plural and for you.

The short answers to yes/no questions are:
Yes, + subject + was/were.
No, + subject + wasn’t/weren’t.

*** English / ESL Video: No Music Version ***


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