Wasn’t vs. Weren’t: Complete Grammar Guide (15+ Examples)

Both “wasn’t” and “weren’t” are grammatically correct in English, but it’s important to know when to use which form when you’re writing. That’s why we’re looking at them closer in this article to help you learn about them.

When Should I Use “Wasn’t” Vs. “Weren’t”?

Wasn’t should be used when you’re using the first-person singular (I) or third-person singular (he, she, it). Weren’t should be used when you’re using the first-person plural (we) or the third-person plural (you, they). The two words are not interchangeable, and you must learn these forms.

When Should I Use "Wasn't" Vs. "Weren't"?

Which Is Correct: If It Wasn’t For Or If It Weren’t For?

Let’s look at a few example phrases to see when one is correct over the other. We’ll start with the simple phrase “if it wasn’t for” or “if it weren’t fo.”

When we use either of these phrases, they’ll usually be followed by a pronoun in a tense, which helps us understand what form to use. “Wasn’t” is used for first- and third-person singular, while “weren’t” is used for first- and third-person plural.

  • If it weren’t for them, I would have been fine.

In this case, we’re using “them” as the third-person plural. That means we have to accompany it with “weren’t” when we want to write it.

  • If it wasn’t for me, this would be over.

Here, we’re using the first-person singular “me,” which means we are using “wasn’t” in this tense.

Many native speakers will speak in this way when they’re using these pronouns. However, it’s also common for even native speakers to get these rules wrong. For example, they may switch the phrases round to show:

  • If it wasn’t for them.
  • If it weren’t for me.

While “wasn’t for them” is grammatically incorrect in this case, it’s still used in speaking because the rules are slightly more relaxed. However, “weren’t for me” is grammatically correct as well because we’re using the past-tense of the subjunctive mood (basically, it’s more formal).

Is It Weren’t I Or Wasn’t I?

When we’re using the pronoun “I,” we’re writing in the first-person singular. Hopefully, you’ve been following along, and you remember the rules for this.

  • Wasn’t I already doing that?

“Wasn’t I” is the correct form to use when we’re using the first-person singular. “Weren’t I” in this case is wrong and should not be used.

  • Weren’t I over there before?

See how this one sounds wrong. If anything, it might make sense in a 1920s old-fashioned cartoon with a Cockney accent, but it’s grammatically incorrect and should be avoided.

There Wasn’t Vs. There Weren’t

Now things get slightly more interesting. When we use “there wasn’t” and “there weren’t,” both can be correct and incorrect depending on the context.

  • There wasn’t any water left.
  • There weren’t many things going on.

When we use “there wasn’t” or “there weren’t,” we have to look at whether we’re using countable nouns. If we are, like “things,” then we use “weren’t.” However, if there are no countable nouns (like “water”), then we use “wasn’t.”

Unfortunately, there’s not one strict rule that determines whether something is or isn’t a countable noun. Instead, it’s just something you have to learn over time and ingrain into your memory.

However, many native speakers again aren’t too familiar with the differences in use. In speaking, many people will use both “there wasn’t” and “there weren’t” incorrectly, but no native speakers will mind hearing it wrong (and most often won’t know the difference).

Example Sentences With Weren’t

Let’s go through some examples then, starting with when “weren’t” is the correct word to use.

  1. Weren’t you supposed to visit her later tonight?
  2. We weren’t going to tell you about it until later.
  3. If it weren’t for those meddling children, I would have a nice lawn.
  4. They weren’t sure how to proceed.
  5. There weren’t many things to do outside.
  6. We weren’t entirely sure how to help him.
  7. Weren’t we going to go back home after this?

See how in each case, when we use “weren’t,” we’re working with the specific pronouns we mentioned (you, we, or they), or we’re using countable nouns if no pronouns are present.

Example Sentences With Wasn’t

Now let’s see “wasn’t” in action.

  1. I wasn’t sure what to do.
  2. He wasn’t honest with me.
  3. Wasn’t she going to be here earlier?
  4. If it wasn’t for me, we wouldn’t have got all that money!
  5. If it wasn’t for him, I would be lost!
  6. There wasn’t much left in the sand bowl.
  7. I wasn’t going to sit around all day.
  8. Wasn’t I supposed to help someone do something today?

Step-By-Step Guide: How To Find Out If You Should Use “Wasn’t” Or “Weren’t

Let’s also run you through a quick step-by-step guide with how to use “wasn’t” or “weren’t.” Follow this if you’re struggling with the rules.

  1. Check your sentence pronouns.
  2. I – first-person singular / he, she, it – third-person singular
  3. Use “wasn’t” in the case of these pronouns.
  4. We – first-person plural / you, they – third-person plural
  5. Use “weren’t” in the case of these pronouns.
  6. If no pronouns are present, check the noun.
  7. If they are countable, use “weren’t.”
  8. If they are uncountable, use “wasn’t.”

What Does Wasn’t And Weren’t Mean?

Wasn’t and weren’t are both contractions and have a very similar meaning.

Wasn’t means “was not,” meaning that someone or something didn’t do something. Weren’t means “were not,” meaning the same as “wasn’t” but using a different form.

What Is The Long Form For Wasn’t And Weren’t?

The long-form for “wasn’t” and “weren’t” is seen when we remove the apostrophe.

“Wasn’t” is “was not” and “weren’t” is “were not.” Both mean the same thing; they just depend on the pronoun form.

What Can I Use Instead Of Wasn’t?

If you don’t want to use wasn’t, there are a few other things you can do. The most commonly used alternative is:

  • Did not / didn’t

This one works really well because you don’t have to worry about the form. “I didn’t” works just as well as “they didn’t.”

  • Can not / can’t

The same thing happens here. There are no different forms, meaning “I can’t” is the same as “they can’t.”

You might also like:

“If I Was” vs. “If I Were” – Explained For Beginners (Helpful Examples)

“If There Was” vs. “If There Were” – Difference Explained