Where vs. Were vs. Wear: What’s the Difference?

A lot of English writers mix up these three words, which, despite sounding very similar in their pronunciations, all have different meanings. Words like this are called homophones, and some of them can be very easy to confuse.

In today’s post, I want to highlight the differences between these three words and their functions within a sentence as well as give you a few tricks to keep track of them.

So how exactly are where vs. were vs. wear different?

When to Use Where

grammar of where and wereWhat does where mean? Where is the most versatile of the three words. It can function as an adverb, conjunction, and a pronoun. All of the uses of where have to do with a place, location, or situation. For example,

  • Where is the coffee shop? (Adverb)
  • He lives where the sun is always shining. (Conjunction)
  • She moved to a country where opportunity was more available. (Pronoun)

Here are a few helpful tips when using where. When where is used to refer to a point of reference, the preposition from is required.

  • Where did that book come from?
  • From where I’m sitting, things don’t look very good.

When where is used to refer to a destination, the preposition to is generally redundant and, therefore, unnecessary.

  • Where are you going? CORRECT
  • Where are you going to? INCORRECT

When where is used to refer to the location of a person, event, or thing, using the preposition at is considered colloquial and incorrect.

  • Where is the restaurant? CORRECT
  • Where is the restaurant at? INCORRECT

Lastly, where can sometimes be used to mean “in which.”

  • There is not a single instance where you should mix dark brown and black together.
  • There is not a single instance in which you should mix dark brown and black together.

This last usage of where, however, has most experts split, so it is probably best to stick with “in which” in these types of situations.

When to Use Were

What does were mean? Were is a state of being verb used to describe something that happened in the past. For example,

  • What were you doing last night?
  • My parents were out of town all last week.

Again, were is a verb, so it is easy to separate it from where because where cannot function as a verb.

So, if we look at a few example sentences, it should be clear which option we should choose.

  • Where is the dog? CORRECT
  • The dog is were? INCORRECT
  • The dog is where? CORRECT

In all of these sentences, there is already a verb, so we know that were cannot be the correct choice.

When to Use Wear

are were and where the sameWhat does wear mean? Wear is primarily used a verb that means, “to carry or have on one’s person as covering, adornment, or protection.” For example,

  • In the car, you must wear your seatbelt.
  • Are you wearing my shoes?
  • My brother wears glasses.

Wear can also signify fatigue or exhaustion.

  • All of your complaining has worn me down.
  • If your tires are worn, you should replace them.

Wear can also be a noun such as wear and tear on a car or casual wear in clothing.

Remember the Difference

A good way to keep track of where is that it is only one letter apart from there. Both words have to do with directions. Where is this? It’s over there. If you can remember where is closely related to there, you will be set.

The word wear has to do with clothing, so you can remember this because you wear a hat. Both have the letter “a” in them.

Summary

These three words are commonly confused with each other, but were vs. where vs. wear all have different meanings, and we need to use them correctly to keep our writing clear and precise.

Where can be a adverb, conjunction, or pronoun. It has to do with directions.

Were is a verb and the past tense of be.

Wear is also a verb, but has to do with clothes or fatigue. It can also sometimes function as a noun.

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