Difference between Was and Were | Was vs Were

There are many students who struggle when it comes to using words like ‘was’ and ‘were’. A single unmindful use of these words will lead to grammatical errors. So how will students know when to use the word ‘was’ and ‘were’? This article will talk about the point of difference between the words ‘was’ and ‘were’, and once students understand that, it’ll be easier for them to use them correctly.

Helping/Auxiliary verbs play an essential role in the English Language So it’s necessary that students, from a young age, have an idea when and how to use them. A student who has a strong grasp of grammar has a better ability to construct sentences that are free of grammatical errors. After reading this article, you will have a better idea of when you can use the auxiliary verbs ‘was’ and ‘were’ without getting confused. Let’s have a look at the following points:

Table Summarising the Difference between Was and Were

Was

Were

Meaning

The word ‘was’ is the past form of the verb ‘be’ and is used with a first and third person singular subject.

The word ‘were’ is the past form of the verb ‘be’ and is used with the first and third plural subject and second person (both singular and plural)

Usage

It is used as a Verb.

It is used as a Verb.

Example

Sheldon was at the college yesterday.

The boys were playing in the field.

The table above shows that the words ‘was’ and ‘were’ are neither synonymous nor can be used interchangeably. Students who previously got confused between these terms can now see the difference between them. The following points discussed below will help students have a clearer understanding of the words ‘was’ and ‘were’ so that they can be used correctly.

The Difference between Was and Were – Meaning

The simple difference by which one can differentiate between the words ‘was’ and ‘were’ is that the former is used if the subject is singular, and the latter is used when the subject is plural. The word ‘was’ is used with a first and third-person singular subject and is the past form of the verb ‘be’. So with I (first person singular) and He/She/It (third-person singular), one can use ‘was’. Whereas with We (first-person plural), They (third-person plural) and You (second-person singular/plural), one can use ‘were’. Once students learn this, it’ll be easy for them to use these words in sentences. The following examples will help students understand clearly when and how to use ‘was’ and ‘were’. Let’s have a look at the examples.

Example of Was and Were

The following examples will ensure students understand the terms ‘was’ and ‘were’.

Was – i) I was washing the car yesterday. (first person singular)

ii) Amy was at the piano lessons. (third-person singular)

Were – i) We were playing tennis last night. (first-person plural)

ii) You were one of the smartest students in our class. (second person plural)

iii) They were leaving the house. (third-person plural)

Was and Were – Conclusion

Though the words ‘was’ and ‘were’ are both past tenses of the verb ‘to be’, they can’t be used synonymously or interchangeably. When students are using these words, they have to understand in which tense and in which person the subject is in before applying them, or they’ll misuse them. The BYJU’S website also offers various articles on many such ‘differences between two words’ that students often get confused with and end up using incorrectly.

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