Was versus Were
Was and were are both past tenses of the verb ‘to be’ but they are used differently.
‘Was’ is used with the first person singular, i.e. ‘I’ and third person singular i.e. ‘he, she, it’.
- I was going home.
- He was eating food.
- She was drawing.
- It was lost.
‘Were’ is used with second person singular and plural i.e. ‘you/ you all’ and first and third person plural i.e. ‘we’, ‘they’.
- You were drinking water.
- Yours were the best designs.
- We were playing.
- They were talking.
The pronoun ‘I’ can be used with ‘were’ as a conditional as well as with ‘was’. ‘Were’ is the past subjunctive of the present verb ‘to be’, meaning it expresses hope, possibility or supposition rather than stating a fact.
- If I were you, I wouldn’t touch that. (I’m not you; it’s hypothetical – used for the present or future)
- If I were a multi-billionaire, I would rid the world of poverty. (I’m not a multi-billionaire, it’s hypothetical – used for the present or future)
To remember the use of was and were it is important to understand when is each of them used and in what condition.