The simple past tense has various uses; here are two:

First Use: Simple past is used to show a completed action in the past and we know the time that the action completed.

I saw a movie yesterday.

Second Use: But the Simple Past can also be used to describe past facts or generalizations which are no longer true.

So, when we say "He didn't like tomatoes before.", we imply that "Now he likes tomatoes"

mar‧ried /ˈmærid/ (adjective): having a husband or a wife

See this sentence "I was married two years ago"

Now, if we apply the First Use to that sentence, it means "I had a wife two years ago". But the First Use does not say that is no longer true. So, it could be I still have the same wife now.

But, in reality, people often say "I have been married for two years" instead of "I was married two years ago"

If we apply the Second Use, it means that I do not have a wife now.

I am having some feeling that the First Use does not apply to State verbs such as be, see, hear, want, and need. In other words, State verbs only have the Second Use and not the First.

So, "I wanted an apple yesterday" means "I don't want an apple now But maybe I am mistaken.

So, could "I was married two years ago" have many different meanings?

  • I got married two years ago. Jul 31, 2017 at 0:39
  • @PeterShor, get married= have a wedding. That is a different story!
    – Tom
    Jul 31, 2017 at 0:40
  • 1
    That's actually one of the common meanings of I was married two years ago. The other is I had a wife two years ago. Jul 31, 2017 at 0:41
  • 7
    "I was married 2 years ago" could mean either "Two years ago a marriage ceremony occurred in which I attained the status of "married", or "Two years ago my marital status was 'married', though that status was achieved some unspecified time prior, and my current status is unspecified." Neither interpretation specifies current marital status.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 31, 2017 at 1:01
  • You can always use the definite article "the" with ordinal numbers. In this case, listing the uses in order makes greater sense.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jul 31, 2017 at 4:58

2 Answers 2


The two meaning have to do with the word "married". Married is both a state of union, but also the ceremony. "I was married two years ago", could refer to...

  1. My wedding occurred two years ago.


Person One: When was the wedding?

Person Two: I was married two years ago.

  1. Two years ago I was already married to someone.


Person One: What was your marital status two years ago?

Person Two: I was married two years ago.

Regarding the question of the 2 Uses described by the OP. I would caution that the second use would not necessarily apply to a state that is no longer active. It often is dependent on the context. As you can see in the second example provided in this answer, there is no issue grammatical issue, whether the condition continues to the present or not. Other phrases like "but" or "however" may be helpful to discern if there is an on going state.

"I wanted an apple yesterday, but not anymore."


All the variants- 'I was married two years ago' , 'We/You were married two years ago', and 'He/She was married two years ago' - point to the same thing: ambiguity.

These sentences merely describe one's marital status two years ago. It does not necessarily imply the fact that they are still married. Just like stating 'I was uncommitted two years ago' doesn't imply you're single now.

A better statement would be - 'I got married', 'I tied the knot', or even 'I have been married for two years'. The last statement is in the present perfect continuous tense, which does not require that the action is completed, as you continue to be married to that person.

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