Life in the 1980’s: there was and there were

Check exercise

In this activity there is a father and his daughter. They are talking about the father's life in the 1980s. Read and listen to the conversation and then decide if the ideas are True or False.

Karla: Was life in the 1980s very different from now?

Eduardo: It was so different! I was a teenager. There were no cell phones and there was no internet.

Karla: Really! Were there computers?

Eduardo: There were computers, but they were very expensive so they weren't common.

Karla: Wow. I can't imagine that. What were your hobbies?

Eduardo: There were a lot of options. The radio was very popular. There were radio programs and radio dramas. There were a lot of popular TV programs that I liked to watch, but There were also many kids on the streets. We spent a lot of time playing outside with our friends in the block. There were soccer and volleyball games every day on the streets. There were a lot of children in our family, so I played with my cousins, brothers, sisters and neighbors. Teenagers weren't at home all day long. They spent most of their free time in the park or outside playing with other kids.

Karla: How did you communicate with your friends?

Eduardo: There were phones, but they weren't for kids or very young teenagers. There were many rules at home and kids weren't allowed to use the telephone. We talked to our friends everyday when we were outside playing with them, so the phone wasn't very necessary.

Karla: Are you serious?

Eduardo: For real!

In the 1980's ...

  True False

1. There was more technology than today.

2. There were cell phones.

3. There were computers.

4. There weren't any children playing on the streets.

5. There wasn't music.

6. There were rules for kids.

7. The phone was more necessary than today.

There was and There where

There was” and “there were” are used to talk about the existence of something in the past. Check these examples:

For SINGULAR ideas we use

There was

For PLURAL ideas we use

There were



There was internet.


There were cell phones.


There wasn't internet.

There was no internet.

There weren’t cell phones.

There were no cell phones.

Questions’ structure Was + there + complement? Were + there + complement?
Was there internet? Were there cell phones?

Yes, there was.

No, there wasn’t.

Yes, there were.

No, there weren’t.

Writing exercise

Read the next part of the conversation between Karla and her father Eduardo and complete with the correct form of there was and there were.

Karla: Was Mexico City very different?

Eduardo: It was very different. In 1985 there was a very terrible earthquake and many parts of the city were destroyed.

Karla: Was your house affected?

Eduardo: My house was not affected, but there were some schools in my neighborhood that were destroyed.

Karla: Were there students in the school at that moment?

Eduardo: No, there weren’t any students. It was very early in the morning.

Karla: Tell me more about the 80s!

Eduardo: Music was not on demand. There were tapes or cassettes.

Karla: Cassettes, what is that?

Eduardo: Cassettes were audio recordings and there were tape recorders to listen to them.

Karla: Were there video games?

Eduardo: Yes, there were.

Karla: Were there remote controls?

Eduardo: Yes, there were.

Karla: Was there any famous superhero?

Eduardo: Yes, there were a lot of superheroes.

Karla: What music was popular?

Eduardo: There was a lot of popular music. There were a lot of famous singers, but Madonna and Michael Jackson were the most famous in those years.

Now listen to this conversation and read the text at the same time.