Be Verb In Past Tense: 7 Facts You Should Know

The verb “to be verb’’ is one of the shortest and most important verbs in English grammar. Here we are going to learn the facts of how “be verb’’ can be applied in the past tense.

The “be verb’’ in the past tense includes was, were, and had been. These verbs work as auxiliary verbs or helping verbs and are used with the main verbs to construct sentences to refer to the actions that were performed in the past.

Let us get to know the facts and justifications regarding the usage of the “be verbs” in the past tense in its various forms.

Forms of be verb used in the past tense

In the table format below is where we will find out the forms of “be verbs” that are used in the past tense.

Forms of past tenseForms of be verb used in the past tense
1. Simple past tensea. I was (first person singular number subject) We were (first person plural number subject)
b. You were(second person singular number subject) You were (second person plural number)
c. He/she/it was (third-person singular number subject)
d. They were (third person plural number subject)
2. Past continuous tensea. I was being(first person singular number subject) We were being(first person plural number subject)
b. You were being (second person singular number subject) You were being (second person plural number)
c. He/she/it was being(third-person singular number subject)
d. They were being(third person plural number subject)
3. Past perfect tensea. All persons and numbers subject + had been
Forms of “be verb” used in the past tense

How be verbs are used in the past tense?

“Be verbs’’ are used in the past tense as helping or auxiliary verbs to help the main verbs to form tense forms, voice, and mood. The structure of “be verb” used in the past tense is-

a. Subject + be verb(was/were) + object + remaining part of the sentence

The tabular format below will help us to know how we use “be verb” in the past tense in an interesting way.

ExampleExplanation
1. My father was reading the newspaper in the morning yesterday.In this sentence, it is found that be verb “was’’ is used to help the main verb “reading’’ to form past continuous tense.
2. The teachers were teaching the students in the class very carefully.Here the be verb “were’’ is in the use to help the principal verb “teaching’’ to form a past continuous tense form.
Examples and explanations of how be verbs are used in the past tense

When be verbs are used in the past tense?

There are concrete rules for using “be verbs” in every tense form. The past tense has also certain rules for applying them. Now, we will learn when we can use it.

When we construct any sentence in the past tense the be verbs are used before the main verbs as helping verbs to form tense forms i. e. past indefinite tense/ past continuous tense/past perfect tense.

Let us see the table below where we will find out when we use “be verb” in the past tense.

ExampleExplanation
1. A naughty girl was consoled by his mother.It is seen that the be verb “was’’ is used to help the main verb “consoled’’ to form a passive voice in the past in definite tense.
2. The saplings were planted by the students on the boundary on tree plantation day. Here we see that be verb “were’’ is applied to help the main verb “planted’’ to form a passive voice in the simple past tense.
Examples when “be verb” used in the past tense

Why be verbs are used in the past tense?

There are several reasons for using “be verbs” in the past tense. Let us come to know the reasons why “be verbs” are used in the past tense.

We basically use “be verbs” in the past tense because we need to form past indefinite tense in the passive voice as helping verbs and in the case of forming past continuous tense, we must use be verbs to help the main verbs to emphasize the meanings.

Let us look at the tabular format below to see the usage of “be verb” in the past tense to learn the topic very well.

ExampleExplanation
1. The boys were asked by their mother to read loudly so that could hear them from the kitchen.In this sentence, we have found the usage of the “be verb” “were’’ to help the main verb “asked’’ to form a passive voice in the simple past tense.
2. The farmers were working in the field for cultivation.Here we see the usage of the “be verb” “were’’ with the purpose to form a past continuous tense. It is used to help the main verb “working’’.
Example and explanation of “be verb” in the past tense

Formula and structure to use be verbs in the past tense.

It is very urgent to learn the formula and structure of sentences whenever we use “be verbs” in any tense. Now we will get knowledge on formula and structure.

We must use the right forms of “be verbs” of the past tense while making sentences. The structure and formula of “be verb” are as follows-

Forms of past tense Structure of sentenceExample
1. Past indefinite tenseSubject + was/were + object or rest of the sentenceThe people were large in number to collect tickets.
2. Past continuous tenseSubject + was/were + present participle form of the main verb + objectMy nephew was planting two rose plants in the garden.
3. Past perfect tenseSubject + had been + past participle form of the main verb + rest of the sentenceThe voice had been changed with the help of the teacher.
Structure and formula of “be verb” in the past tense

Examples of be verbs used in the simple past tense.

Form of past tenseExampleExplanation
1. Simple past tenseWe were very excited to have support from the neighbors.Here the usage of the “be verb” “were’’ is seen to form a simple past tense. It is used as a main verb.
2. Simple past tenseWas your father at home yesterday?We see the usage of “be verb” “was’’ in the question format to construct a past indefinite tense.
3. Simple past tenseSourabh was punished for his misdeed in the field.In this example, it is found that be verb “was’’ is used to form a simple past tense in the passive form and it helps the main verb “punished’’ here.
4. Simple past tenseKalikanta and Sanjoy were my good friends in kindergarten school.We have found that the “be verb” “were’’ is applied to form simple past tense examples.
5. Simple past tenseLakmal was helped to work out the sums by his parents.Here we see the usage of the “be verb” “was’’ in the simple past tense in which it is used as a helping verb to help the main verb “helped’’ in the passive voice.
Examples of “be verbs” in the simple past tense

Examples of be verbs used in the past perfect tense.

Form of past tenseExampleExplanation
1. Past perfect tenseThe stranger had been shown the way to the post office.Here be verb “had been’’ is used in the past perfect tense to form a passive voice.
2. Past perfect tenseJayanta had been my friend since my childhood.We see that be verb “had been’’ is in the usage to make a sentence in the past perfect tense.
3. Past perfect tenseThe children had been given chocolates by the teacher on children’s day.The usage of the “be verb” “had been’’ shows that it is used to form a passive voice by helping the main verb “given’’.
4. Past perfect tenseThey had been called by the coach to the playground.In this sentence, we have seen that the usage of the “be verb” “had been’’ provides us an example of the past perfect tense in the passive form.
5. Past perfect tenseTanisha had been fed by her mother as she was unwell.Here be verb “had been’’ is in the use to form a past perfect tense in the passive sense by helping the main verb “fed’’.
Examples of “be verbs” used in the past perfect tense

Examples of be verbs used in the past continuous tense.

Form of past tenseExampleExplanation
1. Past continuous tenseThe girls were singing a nice song on the stage.Here the example is in the past continuous tense where be verb “were’’ is used to help the main verb “singing’’.
2. Past continuous tenseWe were going to college by train.The usage of be verb “were’’ is in the formation of past progressive tense that offers us the application of “be verb” to help the principal verb “going’’.
3. Past continuous tenseGargi was reading English with her teacher very attentively.The usage of the “be verb” “was’’ is to help the main verb “reading’’ to a continuous form in the past tense.
4. Past continuous tenseThe spectators were cheering the player for a better performance in the game.The application of the “be verb” “were’’ shows the formation of a progressive form in the past tense.
5. Past continuous tenseMy daughter was drawing last night when I called her to dinner.Here we see that be verb “was’’ is used the help the main verb “drawing’’ to construct a past progressive tense.
Examples of the “be verbs” used in the past continuous tense

Conclusion

We have gathered enough description on the usage of the “be verbs” in the past tense. Apart from this we are certain to apply “be verbs” in the present and future tense. We also will get to know the mention that we can apply “be verb” to form an interrogative mood.

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