Was is generally accepted as singular - 'a dog was in the garden', were, plural - 'some dogs were in the garden.

So why is 'You was in the garden' so wrong, (you were in the garden) but have to be 'you were in the garden, singular and plural? It seems to be restricted to only the noun 'you', which could be singular or plural - and in a lot of cases, that fact remains hidden.

  • 1
    It seems wrong because it is 'generally accepted', and similarly for 'they' used in the singular. It's also 'generally accepted' that conjugation is illogical too: I go, you go, he goes, we go, you go, they go. Oct 10, 2023 at 12:00
  • Third person singular 'was', third person plural 'were'. Second person happens to be 'were' for both. Oct 10, 2023 at 12:01
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    Questions asking why grammar rules are the way they are, will probably have no answer.
    – Centaurus
    Oct 10, 2023 at 13:18
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    Look up “thou” for some relevant information.
    – Peter
    Oct 10, 2023 at 13:33
  • Per @Peter, the word you started life as plural. Oct 15, 2023 at 0:04

1 Answer 1


You can find the answer to this question in a related but different one. As this answer explains, "you" was originally the plural form of "thou". Hence "you were" included a plural verb "were" agreeing with a plural noun "you".

As the language evolved "you" started being used to refer to singular individuals, and the verb "were" came along with it, now also being singular (in that particular context).

  • So, 'you' is both singular and plural. We know that. Why isn't it universal in its use?
    – Tim
    Oct 13, 2023 at 20:17
  • You're probably being confused by the fact that be is the only verb in English that marks plural in past tense: I went, we went, she went, they went. But I was, we were, she was, they were. Other than be, singular and plural are identical in the past tense. In other words, be is already by far the most irregular verb in English, so that's why it's not universal in its usage. This is a fact about the auxiliary verb be, not about singular or plural. Oct 13, 2023 at 21:26

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