[ wur; unstressed wer; British also wair ]
/ wɜr; unstressed wər; British also wɛər /
a 2nd person singular pt. indicative, plural past indicative, and past subjunctive of be.
Words nearby were
Origin of were
before 1000; Middle English; Old English wǣre past subjunctive, wǣre past indicative 2nd person singular and wǣron past indicative plural of wesan to be; cognate with Dutch, German waren, Danish var. See was
usage note for were
Definition for were (2 of 3)
[ bee; unstressed bee, bi ]
/ bi; unstressed bi, bɪ /
verb (used without object), present singular 1st person am, 2nd are or (Archaic) art, 3rd is, present plural are; past singular 1st person was, 2nd were or (Archaic) wast or wert, 3rd was, past plural were; present subjunctive be; past subjunctive singular 1st person were, 2nd were or (Archaic) wert, 3rd were; past subjunctive plural were; past participle been; present participle be·ing.
to exist or live: Shakespeare's “To be or not to be” is the ultimate question.
to take place; happen; occur: The wedding was last week.
to occupy a place or position: The book is on the table.
to continue or remain as before: Let things be.
to belong; attend; befall: May good fortune be with you.
(used as a copula to connect the subject with its predicate adjective, or predicate nominative, in order to describe, identify, or amplify the subject): Martha is tall. John is president. This is she.
(used as a copula to introduce or form interrogative or imperative sentences): Is that right? Be quiet! Don't be facetious.
auxiliary verb, present singular 1st person am, 2nd are or (Archaic) art, 3rd is, present plural are; past singular 1st person was, 2nd were or (Archaic) wast or wert, 3rd was, past plural were; present subjunctive be; past subjunctive singular 1st person were, 2nd were or (Archaic) wert, 3rd were; past subjunctive plural were; past participle been; present participle be·ing.
(used with the present participle of another verb to form the progressive tense): I am waiting.
(used with the present participle or infinitive of the principal verb to indicate future action): She is visiting there next week. He is to see me today.
(used with the past participle of another verb to form the passive voice): The date was fixed. It must be done.
(used in archaic or literary constructions with some intransitive verbs to form the perfect tense): He is come. Agamemnon to the wars is gone.
Origin of be
before 900; Middle English been, Old English bēon (bēo- (akin to Old Frisian, Old High German bim, German bin, Old Saxon bium, biom (I) am, Old English, Old High German, Old Saxon būan, Old Norse būa reside, Latin fuī (I) have been, Greek phy- grow, become, Old Irish boí (he) was, Sanskrit bhávati (he) becomes, is, Lithuanian búti to be, OCS byti, Persian būd was)) + -n infinitive suffix. See am, is, are1, was, were
WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH bebe bee
usage note for be
Definition for were (3 of 3)
[ weer ]
/ wɪər /
contraction of we are: We're happy to see you.
usage note for we're
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for were (1 of 7)
/ (wɜː, unstressed wə) /
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 7)
the chemical symbol for
British Dictionary definitions for were (3 of 7)
bill of exchange
(in the US) Board of Education
Bachelor of Education
Bachelor of Engineering
British Dictionary definitions for were (4 of 7)
British Dictionary definitions for were (5 of 7)
/ (wɪə) /
British Dictionary definitions for were (6 of 7)
/ (biː, unstressed bɪ) /
verb present singular 1st person am; 2nd person are; 3rd person is; present plural are; past singular 1st person was; 2nd person were; 3rd person was; past plural were; present participle being or past participle been (intr)
to have presence in the realm of perceived reality; exist; liveI think, therefore I am; not all that is can be understood
(used in the perfect or past perfect tenses only) to pay a visit; gohave you been to Spain?
to take place; occurmy birthday was last Thursday
(copula) used as a linking verb between the subject of a sentence and its noun or adjective complement or complementing phrase. In this case be expresses the relationship of either essential or incidental equivalence or identity (John is a man; John is a musician) or specifies an essential or incidental attribute (honey is sweet; Susan is angry). It is also used with an adverbial complement to indicate a relationship of location in space or time (Bill is at the office; the dance is on Saturday)
(takes a present participle) forms the progressive present tensethe man is running
(takes a past participle) forms the passive voice of all transitive verbs and (archaically) certain intransitive onesa good film is being shown on television tonight; I am done
(takes an infinitive) expresses intention, expectation, supposition, or obligationthe president is to arrive at 9.30; you are not to leave before I say so
(takes a past participle) forms the perfect or past perfect tense of certain intransitive verbs of motion, such as go or comethe last train is gone
be that as it may the facts concerning (something) are of no importance
Word Origin for be
Old English bēon; related to Old High German bim am, Latin fui I have been, Greek phuein to bring forth, Sanskrit bhavati he is
British Dictionary definitions for were (7 of 7)
the internet domain name for
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
Medical definitions for were
The symbol for the elementberyllium
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Scientific definitions for were
The symbol for beryllium.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Idioms and Phrases with were
In addition to the idioms beginning with be
- be a credit to
- be along
- be big on
- be bound to
- be busted
- bed and board
- bed and breakfast
- bed of roses
- be down
- bee in one's bonnet
- been around
- been had
- been there, done that
- been to the wars
- beginning of the end, the
- begin to see daylight
- begin to see the light
- begin with
- beg off
- beg the question
- beg to differ
- be had
- be in on
- be into
- bell the cat, who will
- be my guest
- bend one's elbow
- bend over backwards
- bend someone's ear
- be off
- be on
- be oneself
- be on to
- beside oneself
- beside the point
- be that as it may
- be the death of
- be the end of one
- be the making of
- let be
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.