“Where” vs. “Were”: What’s The Difference?

dark aqua text "where vs were" on light aqua background

Where and were are similar-looking words and they often appear alongside each other in questions like Where were you this morning? But they are very different words with very different functions and meanings

In this article, we’ll define where and were, explain the different ways that they are used, provide examples of how they are typically used in sentences, and even cover the also similar-looking word we’re.

Quick summary

The word where (pronounced [ wair ]) is commonly used to ask about place or location (Where are you?) or indicate those things (I told him where I was). The word were (pronounced [ wur ]) is a past tense form of the irregular verb be that is used with plural subjects (The cupcakes were delicious) and the pronouns you and they regardless of whether they are singular or plural (They were all great, but you were spectacular!). The word we’re (pronounced [ weer ]) is a contraction of the words we are.

What is the difference between where and were?

The word where is most commonly used in the context of places or physical locations to ask about them, as in Where do you live?, or to indicate them, as in I don’t know where he put my hat. In this way, it can function as an adverb, a conjunction, or a pronoun.

The word were is one of the past tense forms (along with was) of the irregular verb be. Were is used with all plural subjects as well as the pronouns you and they (regardless of whether they are being used as singular or plural).

For example:

  • The deer were in the yard this morning. 
  • They were good, but you were better!

Confusion can arise because where and were often appear together in certain common questions that ask about locations.

For example:

  • Where were you?
  • Were the keys where you thought they were?

Another possible point of confusion is the word we’re, which is a contraction that is short for we are. Be careful, because it can be used alongside where and nearby were.

For example:

  • Just last week, they were where we’re going tomorrow.

It is important to note that we’re always represents we are and never we were (so it would be incorrect to say We’re at the store yesterday, for example).

Examples of where, were, we’re used in a sentence

To finish things up, we’re going to look at some sentences that show how where, were, and we’re are typically used.

  • Where is the bathroom?
  • The apples were green.
  • I want to live in a place where it is warm all year.
  • I can’t remember where we were when the lights went out.
  • Where were the best places to eat?
  • Where we’re going, there were once castles.

Want to review the other forms of the irregular verb be? Check our following guides:

is vs. are

been vs. being

has been vs. have been

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