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    Using "Be" In Simple Past Tense

    Hi All

    Using verb "be" in simple past tense is a little bit confusing for me cause understanding and categorizing it is difficult. For example...

    "I wasn't at the party yesterday."

    What is the function of "was" here as category. If it is the main verb how can we put "not" next to it. As far as I know it is not auxillary verb here. Is it verbal noun... or what? If it is a kind of verb (except for auxillary), how can we put it to the beginning of a sentence to form a question sentence. Because, as far as I know, when we use a verb as a first word of a sentence it becomes imperative.

    How do we categorize this?

    Last edited by murat guler; 16-Oct-2015 at 18:38.

  1. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Re: Using "Be" In Simple Past Tense

    "Was" is the past simple of the verb "to be". It's not an auxiliary verb in this sentence.

    I am young.
    I was young.
    I am not young.
    I was not young.

    I'm not sure what kind of question you want to form.

    Were you at the party yesterday?
    No. I was not at the party yesterday.

    If you put a verb on its own at the start of a sentence (not a question), then it's an imperative.

    Stand over there! (Imperative).
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    Re: Using "Be" In Simple Past Tense

    BE can function as an auxiliary. When it does, it forms the negative, interrogative, emphatic, question-tag or short-answer forms without auxiliary DO (like auxiliary HAVE and the modals).

    John is not working.
    Are they coming?
    I am trying!
    It wasn't destroyed, was it?
    Yes, it was.

    It can also function as a full verb When it does, it is, for most speakers, unique, in that is still does not form any parts (except for the negative and emphatic imperatives) with DO.

    John isn't happy.
    Are they at home?
    I am a teacher!

    He wasn't a witness, was he?
    Yes, he was.


    Do be careful!
    Don't be caught.

    I said it was unique for most speakers, because a minority of speakers of BrE do not use auxiliary DO with HAVE when that verb functions as a full verb.

    Do you have any questions? Have you any questions?

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