Usage of ‘There was’, ‘There were’, and Past Simple Tense

In English, we use ‘There was’ and ‘There were’ to express existence in the past at a certain place. Let’s explore their usage:

‘There was’ and ‘There were’:

Singular (There was):

  • There was a man in front of the car.
  • There was no money in my account at the bank.

Plural (There were):

  • There were two men in front of the car.
  • There weren’t any people in the mall.


Was there a gas station near your house? – Yes, there was. / No, there wasn’t.

Were there a lot of people at the graduation ceremony? – No, there weren’t. / Yes, there were.

Verb ‘be’ in Past Simple:

In Past Simple, the verb ‘be’ changes to ‘was’ for singular subjects and ‘were’ for plural subjects:

I amI was
She isShe was


She was at the party.

We weren’t at the party.

Common Past Time Expressions:

Yesterday – I wasn’t at school yesterday.

Ago – He was in the class a few minutes ago.

Last – He was here last night. We weren’t at home last night.

In – I was in Italy in 2007.

On – I was at the concert on Tuesday.


Were you at the party last night? – Yes, I was.

Was she at the gym? – No, she wasn’t.


There weren’t any books on the shelf.

There weren’t any books.

Past Simple Tense for Completed Actions:

Past Simple is used for completed actions in the past. Regular and irregular verbs are used:

Regular Verbs:

  • Like – Liked
  • Play – Played
  • Clean – Cleaned


We played tennis yesterday.

He tried to talk to the headmaster but he couldn’t manage.


He didn’t work here last year.


Did you play football yesterday? – Yes, I did. / No, I didn’t.

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