WERE vs. WAS?

Status
Not open for further replies.

PlacidRan

Senior Member
Joined
May 16, 2010
Member Type
Other
Native Language
English
Home Country
United States
Current Location
United States
I dreamt of a place. There (WERE or WAS) just two of us.
 

kfredson

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2009
Member Type
Academic
I dreamt of a place. There (WERE or WAS) just two of us.

Thank you for the fascinating question. My immediate reaction is that one would only say, There were just two of us. And I assume that is correct for the situation you describe.

However, if you change "there" to "it" you get quite a different situation.

"It was just two of us sitting together listening to the band." (You will find many better examples of you google the phrase.)

Does "there" somehow change it to plural? I can't imagine why this would be the case.

So I confess to being a little confused here. In the example I cited, for instance, it may be a case of the shortening of the phrase, "It was just the two of us..." This would tend to make it singular.

But perhaps others can find the rule here.
 

Atchan

Key Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2010
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Somali
Home Country
Somalia
Current Location
Saudi Arabia
TENSES

Past continuous - form
The past continuous of any verb is composed of two parts : the past tense of the verb to be (was/were), and the base of the main verb +ing.

Past continuous, function
The past continuous describes actions or events in a time before now, which began in the past and was still going on at the time of speaking. In other words, it expresses an unfinished or incomplete action in the past.

It is used:
1) often, to describe the background in a story written in the past tense, e.g. "The sun was shining and the birds were singing as the elephant came out of the jungle. The other animals were relaxing in the shade of the trees, but the elephant moved very quickly. She was looking for her baby, and she didn't notice the hunter who was watching her through his binoculars. When the shot rang out, she was running towards the river..."

2) to describe an unfinished action that was interrupted by another event or action: "I was having a beautiful dream when the alarm clock rang."

3) to express a change of mind: e.g. "I was going to spend the day at the beach but I've decided to go on an excursion instead."

4) with 'wonder', to make a very polite request: e.g. "I was wondering if you could baby-sit for me tonight."

More examples:
a) They were waiting for the bus when the accident happened.
b) Caroline was skiing when she broke her leg.
c) When we arrived he was having a bath.
d) When the fire started I was watching television.

Note: with verbs not normally used in the continuous form, the simple past is used.
 
Last edited:

Bright One

Junior Member
Joined
May 29, 2007
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
Arabic
Home Country
Saudi Arabia
Current Location
United States
Thank you for the fascinating question. My immediate reaction is that one would only say, There were just two of us. And I assume that is correct for the situation you describe.

However, if you change "there" to "it" you get quite a different situation.

"It was just two of us sitting together listening to the band." (You will find many better examples of you google the phrase.)

Does "there" somehow change it to plural? I can't imagine why this would be the case.

So I confess to being a little confused here. In the example I cited, for instance, it may be a case of the shortening of the phrase, "It was just the two of us..." This would tend to make it singular.

But perhaps others can find the rule here.


So, the rule here, if I use "there" then I use were/are with plural following but when I use "it" I take was/is?
 

Bright One

Junior Member
Joined
May 29, 2007
Member Type
Academic
Native Language
Arabic
Home Country
Saudi Arabia
Current Location
United States
Well then, I hope someone will help!

I face this confusion a lot and I really need to know the answer here

Thank you
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top