Tag: was were

Was and Were
Was and Were

The verb to BE in the past tense is one of the most important grammar points in English. As both WAS and WERE belong among 100 most frequent words in English, it is paramount that students know and use them correctly.



In this post, I would like to share a set of activities I use to teach this grammar point. There is a nice communicative activity to introduce the meaning of the verb. Then there is an infographic and a video to teach the form of the verb. And at the end, there is a worksheet where students can learn to form questions and the short answers.

Was Were – introduction

I always start the lesson with the following activity. Students work in pairs. I print the following worksheet and cut it. In each pair, one student has a worksheet A and the other has the worksheet B. They must not show their worksheet to anyone. They read the sentences and their partner has to guess if the sentence is true or not. They count how many correct answers their partner gives.

Then I explain the grammar and usage of the verbs WAS and WERE using the following infographic:

Then I practise the verbs using the following video. Students watch the video and read the sentences using WAS or WERE. If they make a mistake, I stop the video.

I sometimes challenge a student and he/she tries to say all the sentences correctly on their own. Or I make teams, put the students in line in front of the screen and students have to take turns and say the sentences. The team that survives the longest without making a mistake are the winners.

To teach questions and the short answers I use the following worksheet. I use tables and various colours to make my students think about the way to create questions. The rules for the worksheet are simple. The same colour means that that you have to use the same word. A varied shade of the colour means that you use a pronoun, but a different one.

WAS or WERE – the really important grammar
WAS or WERE – the really important grammar

As the word WAS is the ninth and WERE the 34th most frequent word in English it is crucial to use them correctly. You simply cannot avoid using these words, and if you make mistakes in these two words, people will think that you cannot speak English. For teachers it is important to teach this piece of grammar correctly and practise it a lot with their students.

In this post, I would love to teach these two words properly. You can find here a mind map to present this grammar, an MP3 drill recording where your students can practise the forms and two games which will test your or your students’ knowledge of the grammar. I hope it will work.

WAS WERE – mind map

Look at the mind map below and study the usage of the words WAS and WERE. I have tried to present the grammar a bit unusually and put WERE first. Moreover, I list a lot of subjects to give the students a chance to deduce their own rules.

was were mind map

WAS WERE – Drill

Play the following recording. After each subject there is a pause in which you should supply the correct form WAS of WERE. After this pause you will hear the correct form given by the native speaker. This recording is suitable for listening to in your car or on your mobile phone or iPod.

You can download the file by right-clicking on the following link

The verbs WAS and WERE drill – download


You can practise the grammar using the following Youtube videos. In the first video, read and complete the senteces with WAS or WERE. Try not to make a mistake.

In this video, you should make negative sentences with WAS or WERE.

WAS WERE – Games

In the following quizzes you can test your knowledge of the grammar. The first quiz is in HTML5 and it will play on any mobile device. If you pass the test you will be able to play the game called TIC-TAC-TOE. The game is quite difficult, but believe me there is a way to win it. Can you find it?

If you want to play the game on the full screen click the button below:

WAS WERE – TIC TAC TOE full screen

The second game is in Flash and it will play just on your desktop. However, it is suitable for a classroom use, as the questions are short and there comes a short game after each question the students pass. The game is called A car race and it is quite popular with students.

If you want to play the game on the full screen click the button below:

WAS WERE – CAR RACE game – full screen