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were

[ wur; unstressed wer; British also wair ]
/ wɜr; unstressed wər; British also wɛər /
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verb
a second person singular past indicative; first, second, and third person plural past indicative; and past subjunctive of be.
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Origin of were

First recorded before 1000; Middle English; Old English wǣre past subjunctive, wǣre past indicative second person singular and wǣron past indicative plural of wesan “to be”; cognate with Dutch, German waren, Danish var. See was

grammar notes for were

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH were

we're, were , where

Other definitions for were (2 of 2)

we're
[ weer ]
/ wɪər /

contraction of we are:We're happy to see you.

usage note for we're

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH we're

we're , were, where
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use were in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for were (1 of 2)

were
/ (wɜː, unstressed ) /

verb
the plural form of the past tense (indicative mood) of be and the singular form used with you. It is also used as a subjunctive, esp in conditional sentences

Word Origin for were

Old English wērun, wæron past tense plural of wesan to be; related to Old Norse vera, Old Frisian weria, Old High German werōn to last

usage for were

Were, as a remnant of the past subjunctive in English, is used in formal contexts in clauses expressing hypotheses (if he were to die, she would inherit everything), suppositions contrary to fact (if I were you, I would be careful), and desire (I wish he were there now). In informal speech, however, was is often used instead

British Dictionary definitions for were (2 of 2)

we're
/ (wɪə) /

contraction of
we are
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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