There Was – There Were Sentences


there was or there were a number
there was a few there were a few
there was there were countable and uncountable
there was a couple there were a couple
there was some or there were some
there was none or there were none
there was something or there were something
there was no vs there were no
there was more vs there were more
there is none or there are none
there was a lot vs there were a lot
there was a total vs there were a total
there is or there are
there was you or there were you

The verb “was” is the past tense of is, and am.

  • There is a letter on your desk. There was a letter on your desk.

It’s associated with the pronouns: I, he, she, and it.
“Was” is used when talking about singular and uncountable nouns, and the indefinite pronouns somebody,  someone, something, somewhere, which are viewed as singular. When used in combination with an uncountable noun, a quantifier is usually present. Here are some sentences with was.

  • A dog was asleep in the corner. (countable, single noun)
  • She told him that there was some milk in the fridge. (uncountable noun)
  • Emma heard a noise. Was there something under the bed? (Indefinite pronoun).
  • There was no way my grandmother would go on the roller-coaster. (single countable noun)
  • There was more air in the chip packet than chips! (single countable noun)
  • I didn’t hear what you said. There was a lot of background noise. (uncountable noun)
  • There was a total stranger at the door this morning asking for you. (countable noun)

The verb “were” is the past tense form of are. “Were” is associated with we,  they, and you. It’s used with plural countable nouns.

  • There were 12 donuts in the box. Where are they now?
  • A few children were playing football on the grass.
  • There were no signs posted on the country road
  • When I went to India, there were more bikes on the road than cars.
  • There were a couple of dolphins swimming near the beach.
  • I looked for biscuits in the tin, but there were
  • There were a lot of ants in the kitchen this morning.
  • There were a total of 10 cars in the race.
  • I was so scared when I saw the spider, but there you were, laughing loudly!

There’s an exception to the was/were rule which is the subjunctive mood, which means a hypothetical and unreal statement. For example “if I were a millionaire, I’d buy a yacht.” This sentence talks about something that is a dream, it isn’t real. Only with subjunctive mood sentences (unreal, wishing) do we use “were” with I, he, she, or it.  Here are some other examples:

  • If he were any taller, he wouldn’t fit through the door!
  • I’d definitely say yes if Sarah were to ask me on a date.
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