The simple past of to be questions English Beginners Course Lesson 28

This English lesson 28 is focusing on how to use  make  the simple past of to be  questions.

The simple past of to be questions sometimes it is called the preterite and is used to talk about a completed action in a time before the present.

Let’s see how to form positive, negative, and interrogative statements!

Simple past of to be questions ,Positive form of “to be”. 

I was, you were, he was, she was, it was, we were, you were, they were

Negative form of “to be”  

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Hi guys, welcome back. I’m Julia, your online English teacher, and today, we are
going to be looking at the preterite. But what exactly? Well, we will look at the
past, of to be, questions in detail. Or the verb to be, in the simple past form.
So, that is today’s grammar focus, but as usual, depending on your level, and your
level of confidence, I really recommend that you spend time on pronunciation.
Learning or words with the correct pronunciation, feeling confident using
that vocabulary, really helps boost your level of confidence, and also helps you
memorize words, quicker and more easily. So, do turn on those subtitles. I know I
say this every time, but do try and watch the video several times with the
subtitles in English, then in your own language, in English again, and then turn
the subtitles off. Every time, if you do this systematically, you will notice that
it becomes easier. And that means that, when you are having a conversation and
everyday conversation, with a friend, or when you’re on holiday, or when you’re at
the office, it will become easier. Every time it will become easier. Okay, so
that’s why I’m obsessed with turning on the subtitles, turning them off, and
really working towards being totally independent. So, that’s as far as the
subtitles are concerned. For the rest, please stick to the structure of the
dialogue. The way that we have organized each section, has its own logic, so the
dialogue is there to present you with the topic of the day, the subject at hand,
which means essentially a storyline, and a grammar point. Then we isolate the key
words and the vocabulary list. That’s just to really focus
on comprehension and pronunciation, so you can watch it with subtitles in your
language, and understand the meaning of each word, and you can also use it as a
pronunciation exercise. I have students that like to read out loud, others not so
much, so if you’re alone at home, please repeat
out loud. If you’re doing this on the go, on the train to work, maybe not. Otherwise
use this exercise just to repeat, just to memorize, or as a dictation practice, so
write down words that are less familiar. And to all my students, I would like to
say please comment, please post your comments below each video. If it’s just a
bit of feedback, or just saying yeah I’ve understood everything, or no I haven’t
understood this and this, please let us know, we really like reading your
questions and your feedback. So carry on posting below and for those who are new
to this program, please don’t forget to subscribe to our channel. Below in the
description in the details of the video, you will also see the link to our
website. We sometimes refer to practice exercises PDFs ,text , you must be
wondering, where are these things? They are free and available on our website
below. So check that out. In the meantime, I’m going to let you study and I will
see you later on, in this video for the recap. I’ll see you later. Bye bye

how to use  the verb to be in the simple past form
the preterite and is used to talk about a completed action in a time before the present.


1/English Sentence Practice the simple past of to be questions.

I am happy to see you, Peter. I was hoping to talk to you yesterday. Were you busy in London?

Tell me about it. Later, now we will have another drink of water before lunch.

What were you doing? I was working at the language school. I was giving classes to intermediate students.

They were very easy to teach. Weren’t they Jeanne? Yes, they were. Jeanne was in the class. Weren’t you?

She was free because she did not have any classes herself. I was happy to teach because the students were receptive.

We did the past of to be, I am, is the present form and I was,  is the past.

I am; I was; You are; You were; He, she, it is; He, she, it was; We are; We were; You are; You were; They are; They were.

Was I? Were you? Was He, She, it?; Were we?, Were you?,  Were They?.

Were you confused Jeanne? No, I was not. I know how I have to learn and practise. In France, I wasn’t ready.

I was always looking for the logic. Now I accept that English is not logical. You just have to learn. haven’t you?

I did not know the importance of pronunciation. If you pronounce well, it makes listening easier.

If listening is easier then it is easier to memorise. If you speak English with a French accent it is difficult to learn English.

English Vocabulary


2/Vocabulary Practice

  • Were you?
  • I am happy to see you.
  • to be busy
  • Tell me about it.
  • Later
  • now
  • a drink of water
  • before lunch
  • What were you doing?
  • I was working
  • I was giving classes
  • to intermediate students.
  • to be free
  • to be receptive
  • to be confused
  • to practise
  • to be ready
  • always looking for
  • the logic
  • to accept
  • logical
  • the importance of pronunciation. to pronounce well, to make easier.
  • a French accent

English Grammar

The past simple of “to be” is irregular.

Let’s see how to form positive, negative, and interrogative statements!

The simple past of to be questions ,Positive form of “to be”. 

I was, you were, he was, she was, it was, we were, you were, they were

Negative form of “to be”  

I was not, you were not, he was not, she was not, it was not, we were not, you were not, they were not

I wasn’t, you weren’t, he wasn’t, she wasn’t, it wasn’t, we weren’t, you weren’t, they weren’t

Interrogative form of “to be”  

Was I? Were you? Was he? Was she? Was it? Were we? Were you? Were they?

Was I not? Were you not? Was he not? Was she not? Was it not? Were we not? Were you not? Were they not?

Wasn’t I? Weren’t you? Wasn’t he? Wasn’t she? Wasn’t it? Weren’t we? Weren’t you? Weren’t they?

When to use “to be” in the simple past? More examples

1/ completed actions – when it is over

It was in 1990.

They were backing singers back then.

2/ when I focus on the duration of an action:

It was on for two hours.

He was here for thirty minutes.

3/ when an action has happened once, never or several times in the past:

It was never that bad.

She was here once.

4/ for a series of actions in the past:

I was at the door. I knocked. The door opened.

5/ for facts or generalisations in the past:

He was the fastest runner in the world.

They were very famous at the time.

Signal words / adverbs of time that go with this tense:


Last week, last Friday, last time

2/ IN

in September, in 1995, in the summer


when she was a child

when I was 21

when that happened



the other day

English Speaking Practise

Questions and Answers

When was the World Cup played in Italy?

It was in 1990.

How long was Peter here for?

He was here for 30 minutes.

Did you eat English food?

Yes, it was never that bad.

Do you remember Nigel Hamilton?

Yes, he was the fastest driver in the world.

Do you remember the Rolling Stones?

Yes, they were famous at the time.

Are you happy to see me?

Yes, but I was hoping to see you yesterday.

Were  you busy?

Yes, I was busy.

What  were you doing?

I was teaching at the language school.

What were you teaching?

I was teaching English grammar.

Why do you ask so many questions?

Lesson 25 recap with Julia

Hi guys! Welcome back! Let’s do a review now of lesson 28 together! This lesson is a great pretext for me to do a pronunciation exercise with you. I would like us to practise and exaggerate the -ED endings. Then we’ll run through the vocabulary of today’s text which is mainly adjectives, before doing a grammar review together and practise the verb “TO BE” in the simple past.

So let’s start off with the -ED endings. As you may already know, we have three different options to choose from. Is my -ED pronounced /d/ /t/ or /id/? Let’s find out with today’s examples!

Repeat after me!





Let’s look at examples of -ED endings pronounced /t/

Repeat after me!






Now let’s look at the third and last option: the -ED ending pronounced /id/.

Repeat after me!




Let’s run through the adjectives of today’s text! Do not hesitate to transcribe the words phonetically. If you are hesitating very slightly or if you confuse certain words, this is a fantastic way of ensuring that you are pronouncing words in a way that can be understood. So repeat after me!








Now let’s do the grammar review together! Here on my screen, as always, you will have examples that will appear. Please take your time, read the examplea nd complete it with the missing form of the verb “TO BE” in the simple past. This will be quite a quick grammar review but let’s do it anyway!

She was French, wasn’t she?

They were English, weren’t they?

It was on for two hours.

They were here for an hour.

when I was 21

when they were teenagers

when we were in France

when they were in Germany

That’s it for today guys! Thanks for watching! I hope you enjoyed today’s recap video as well as your lesson! I hope see you soon! Bye bye!

It is my job to ask questions.


Exercises Lesson 28

Comprehension Practice

Vocabulary Practice

Grammar Practice

California Institute of the Arts


The simple past of to be questions and answers.