Be Verb Questions in the Past Tense

Past Tense - Lesson #3

We make "be verb" questions in the past tense the same as the present tense. The "be verbs" for the past tense are "was" and "were". Look at the difference between a present tense and past tense question.
  • Are you tired today? (Present)
    Were you tired yesterday? (Past)

  • Is he your friend?
    Was he your friend when you were young?

  • Is your steak good?
    Was your steak good?
The only difference is that the "be verb" changes and we use different time words to talk about the past.

Remember that the be verb changes depending on the subject or subjects of a sentence or question.

Was I…?Were you…?
Was Tim…? / Was he…?Were Tim and I…? / Were we…?
Was Susan…? / Was she…?Were Tim and Mark…? / Were they…?
Was the cup…? / Was it…?Were the cups…? / Were they…?

Follow this pattern to make these questions.

Was/Were + subject + noun/adjective…?
  • Was I late this morning?
  • Was he a famous painter?
  • Was she a good manager?
  • Was the food okay?
  • Were you at the concert last night?
  • Were we the best performers?
  • Were the children well-behaved?
  • Were the cookies delicious?
You can also put a prepositional phrase (e.g. on the bed) after the subject.
  • Were the cookies on the table your cookies?
These are yes/no questions and just like other yes/no questions, we can answer in a short or long way. Take a look at some different answers for a question like this.

Were you tired yesterday?
  • Yes, I was tired yesterday.
  • Yes, I was.
  • Yes.
Was she your classmate in high school?
  • No, she wasn't my classmate in high school.
  • No, she was not.
  • No, she wasn't.
  • No.
Example Questions
  • Was I annoying at the party?
  • Was I rude to him?
  • Was I a good manager?

  • Were you prepared for your test?
  • Were you tired after your workout last night?
  • Were you excited to see your family last week?

  • Were we the best presenters at the conference?
  • Were we persuading at the meeting?
  • Were you and I in the same class in middle school?

  • Was he a good boss?
  • Was he drunk at the party?
  • Was Tim on time today?

  • Was she surprised when she heard she got the promotion?
  • Was she tired after she got back from her trip?
  • Was Marissa in charge of this project?

  • Was the hotel nice?
  • Was the movie that you saw interesting?
  • Was it confusing?

  • Were the books expensive?
  • Were Tim and Mark late again this morning?
  • Were they friendly?
English Conversation 1

A) Were you in class yesterday?
B) No, I wasn't. I missed class yesterday.
A) Really? You never miss class. Were you sick?
B) No, I wasn't sick.
A) What happened then?
B) I was absent because I fell asleep and didn't wake up. I don't have an excuse.
A) Well, you can borrow my notes if you want to see what you missed.
B) Thanks. That is nice of you.

English Conversation 2

A) Were you sick yesterday? I didn't see you at the meeting.
B) No, I wasn't sick. I was on a trip.
A) Were you overseas?
B) No. Bill and I had to go to the branch office.
A) Was Bill easy to travel with?
B) Yes, he was. There were no problems.

Improve your English and learn to speak fluently with this simple practice. Finish the questions below and then practice making your own questions. It is an effective way to learn English.

Tip: Say the questions aloud. This will help you practice speaking English and improve your English fluency.

Were you _______________ when you were young?
Were they _______________ last night?
Were people in your country _______________ 200 years ago?
Was your family _______________?
Was your first boss _______________?
Was the book _______________?
Was your job _______________?
Was your hometown _______________?
Was the food _______________?