Is vs. Was

Difference Between Is and Was in English Grammar

Is and Was are both auxiliary verbs that denotes different tenses. Is is used to denote present tense while was is for the past tense. These two are both for singular items and their plural items are “are” and “were”, respectively.

In order to convey an action that is currently taking place, the auxiliary verb “is” is used. For example “ He is running to catch the bus.” On the other hand, for “ was” it is used to convey an action that has already happened like in “ She was making bread” meaning the making of the bread has already been done in the past.

Apart from the examples given above, the verb “is” may also be used to convey the identity, quality and colour of a specific subject. Here’s how:


  1. She is Lisa.
  2. She is very rude.
  3. Herman is pale.

The first sentence tells us the identity of the person being spoken of. The second example informs us of the kind or the quality of person “she” is while the third conveys skin colour.

As for the past tense “was”, this is often used to denote a quality of the subject that is no longer true at the present such as in “ He was cute then.” This simply means that the person is no longer cute at present. Another good example is “ She was a student of this school” wherein the verb “was” is used to describe a status that used to be true in the past.

Here are the main differences between is and was:

  1. Is is an auxiliary verb used to denote something that is still happening or true at the time of speaking (present continuous tense)
  2. Was is an auxiliary verb used to denote something that happened in the past (past continuous tense)
  3. Is and was are plural in are and were, respectively.

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