‘Was’ and ‘were’ – past simple of ‘be’ for A1/A2 students

Teaching and learning the past simple of ‘be’ in affirmative and negative sentences is rather easy. However, the same verb in questions and in the structure there was / there were seems to be much more challenging for beginners. My intention is to help my students practise the verb more efficiently than how it is usually provided by an average coursebook. I decided to create a short series of activities which aims to encourage the learners to gradually use ‘was’ and ‘were’ in increasingly challenging exercises.

You can find all the necessary printable materials below:

‘Was’ or ‘were’ – Ex. 1

‘Was’ or ‘were’ – Ex. 2 and 3

Ex. 1

Split your students into small groups, so that each group gets one set with the sentences. Tell the students they will see a photo. Their task is to find the correct sentence which relates to the photo and complete the sentence with ‘was’ or ‘were’.

Americans …………………… the first people to land on the Moon.
Barack Obama …………………… the 44th President of the United States from 2009 to 2017.
George Washington …………………… the first American president.
The Beatles …………………… one of the most famous bands ever.
Alexander Graham Bell …………………… a Scottish scientist, engineer and inventor who invented a telephone.
Fryderyk Chopin …………………… a great Polish composer and virtuoso pianist of the Romantic era.
Michael Jackson …………………… an excellent American singer called the King of Pop.
Victoria …………………… Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for 64 years.
Albert Einstein …………………… a genius who developed the theory of relativity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ex. 2 

Students stay in the same groups. Hand out the worksheets. They look at the pictures and read the sentences. With the use of one of the question words provided they make up a question  for each sentence.

Ex. 3

Show the picture to the class and ask them if it depicts the present or the past. This time their task is to imagine what life was like 150 years ago. Using the ideas in the box they are supposed to make up sentences with the structure ‘there was / there were.

Example:

There were horse carts in the streets. There weren’t any cars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You may also be interested in some other posts:

Past Simple – lesson ideas for A2 students

Question words and phrases (A1)

 

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