Be Verb - Was / Were (Lesson Plan)
Beginner ESL students can hear two English speakers using the Be verb (was/were) in the past tense. Recommended study plan:
- Watch the video
- Take the quiz
- Listen again and read the script
- Learn the grammar with the notes
Todd: Hey Meg, so let's talk about our life history.
Meg: Okay, let's do it.
Todd: So first, when were you born?
Meg: I was born in
1984. What about you?
Todd: I was born way before that. I was born in 1969.
Todd: Yeah, a ways ago.
Meg: Not too long ago.
Todd: Yeah, 47 years ago, but yeah.
Meg: Okay, a long time ago.
Todd: Okay, so when did you graduate high school?
Meg: I graduated high school in 2003.
Todd: Oh my gosh. Really!
Meg: What about you?
Todd: Wow, I graduated high school in 1987.
Meg: Ah, when I was three years old.
Todd: Wow, yeah! Ah, we were probably about the same intelligence level about that
Meg: No, that's not true.
Todd: And when did you graduate from college?
Meg: I graduated from college in 2010. When did you graduate from college?
Todd: I graduated from college in 1993, so like you I took a little extra time to graduate.
Meg: Yeah, I took more time than normal.
Todd: And when did you get your first job?
Meg: I got my first job when I was 17 years old, I think. When I was still in high school.
Todd: What did you do?
Meg: I worked at a wedding shop, a wedding dress shop, so I helped to assist the customers and clean the dresses.
Todd: That's a cool job.
Meg: Ah, it wasn't so great actually.
Meg: Because brides can get a little crazy.
Todd: I can imagine.
Meg: What about you? When was your first job?
Todd: Well, my first unofficial job was when I was 13. I was a dishwasher.
Meg: Oh, at a restaurant?
Todd: Yeah, and I think it was illegal because I was 13. But yeah, I was a dishwasher. But then my first official job was at McDonald's.
Meg: Oh, what did you do there?
Todd: I made the filet-o-fish. But I got fired.
Meg: Oh, why?
Todd: Also, again I lied about my age. So actually wait, I was 14, and I lied and said I was 15 and they fired me, but I worked there for three months.
Meg: Oh, and you got paid?
Todd: And I got paid.
Meg: Well, that's good at least.
Todd: It was good times. Good times.
Todd: OK, so when did you meet your best friend?
Meg: I met my best friend in 2007, so about 10 years ago. What about you?
Todd: Oh gosh, I met my best friend in high school, so I was a sophomore, a second year student, so that was 1984 or 1985.
Meg: Wow! So you've been best friends for a long time.
Todd: A long time, yeah, yep. So how about phones? When did you get your first phone?
Meg: Hmm! I think I got my first phone when I was also 17, the same year I had my first job. It was my first cell-phone, was that year. What about you?
Todd: Well, I got my first phone also when I was 17, but it was a real phone. My parents gave me my own phone line in my house, so I had a phone in my room. Back then that was common in the 80s, so young high school people would have their own phone in their house.
Meg: Yeah, some of my friends had that when I was growing up also, but I wasn't lucky enough to get my own phone until I could pay for it myself.
Past Tense - Be - Was / Were
The past tense refers to actions that happened and ended before the present time.
- I was at home yesterday. I wasn't at work.
- It was a fun party. It wasn't boring at all.
- He was sad all day. He wasn't happy.
- She was a good teacher. She wasn't strict.
- You were right. You weren't wrong.
- They were late. They weren't on time.
- We were happy with the food. We weren't disappointed.
- You were so noisy. You weren't very quiet!
Past tense verbs usually end with an -ed ending but only for affirmative sentences. For questions and negative statements we use did to express the past. See below.
(Q) Where did you work?
(A) I worked in an office.
(N) I did not work in the city.
There are three ways to pronounce the -ed ending.
1. -ed = /t/ Verbs ending with a non-voiced sound such as the following: -sh, -ch, -p, -k, -s, -t.
- I washed the dishes.
- I walked to work.
- I scratched the dog's ear.
- I popped the popcorn.
2. -ed = /d/ Verbs ending with voiced sound such as the following: -n, -y, -v, -m.
- I cleaned the room.
- I enjoyed the movie.
- I moved the chair.
- I timed the race.
3. -ed = /id/ Verbs ending with -d or -t.
- I wanted to go.
- I decided to stay.
- I needed to sleep.
- I started my homework.
negative form of a verb in the past tense uses did
not and didn't.
- I did not work.
- I didn’t sleep much.
- We did not fly kites at the beach.
- You didn't wash your clothes.