A Bit More About the Past
So far, we have looked at the descriptive version of the continuous past tense of boas to be, for long lasting conditions. The complete version is:
tho vy I was (this is also I am)
tho che you were (singular, familiar, this is also you are)
tho ev he was (present is ew not o)
tho hei she was (present is ew not o)
tho nei we were (this is also we are)
tho whei you were (formal or plural, this is also you are)
tho anjei they were (present is ens not o)
The negative version replaces the verbal particle th with the negative particle nag:
Nag o vy I was not
Nag o che You were not (singular, familiar)
Nag o ev He was not
Nag o hei She was not
Nag o nei We were not
Nag o whei You were not (formal or plural)
Nag o anjei They were not
The interrogative (question) version misses off the particle and starts the sentence with the verb:
O vy? Was I?
O che Were you?
O ev Was he?
O hei Was she?
O’nei Were we?
O whei Were you?
O anjei Were they?
Now we have a version for briefer conditions or events. The non-specific veu was, were, with verbal particles a, na, e (y in RMC), can be used with pronouns, nouns, names, adjectives, past participles, etc.:
Here are some examples using adjectives:
An sagh a veu gwag. The bag was empty.
An flehes a veu adermyn. The children were punctual.
Me a veu serrys rag tecken. I was cross for a moment.
Here are some examples using past participles:
Nei a veu engrys gen an kei. We were annoyed with the dog.
Wella Gwavas a veu genys en Pensans.
William Gwavas was born in Penzance.
An chei coth a veu derevys e’n vledhen etek cans.
The old house was built in the year 1800.
An olifans a veu pernys en Truru.The elephant was bought in T ruro.
An desen a veu debrys. The cake was eaten.
Here are some questions and negative examples:
A veu an gwin pernys gen an düs na?
Was the wine bought by those people?
A veu an wedhen ma tevys en Kernow?
Was this tree grown in Cornwall?
A veu anjei adermyn po na? Were they on time or not?
Na veu an cor’ evys. The beer was not drunk.
Na veu an flehes nakevys. The children were not forgotten.
Here are some examples from literature:
Abraham a veu tas dhe Isak... Abraham was father to Isaac.
Pan veu Jesu genys en Bethlem… When Jesus was born in Bethlehem…
Na veu hedna coynt…  That was not strange…
… hag y veu golow. … and there was light.
William Bodinar’s letter, in its original spelling, gives an indication of how we should pronounce it:
… termen me vee mawe. when I was a boy
Me vee de more gen seara vee a pemp dean moy en cock.
I was at sea with my father and five more men in a boat.
So does Jooan Chei a Horr in John Boson’s spelling:
Po leea ve chee mar bel? Where were you so far?
Me a ve servia… I was serving…