Grammar is the method using which the meaning of words are encoded in a given language. English grammar is deemed to be full of tricky and complex concepts that often confuse the user, not only because of similar spellings but also due to similar phonetic sounds and pronunciations that render new speakers baffled.
It is important to understand the difference between the two in order to avoid miscommunication and encode messages properly.
Where and were belong to two different class of words. The two words have completely different meanings and usage. The word Where is used is questions denoting location. Syntactically, it is usually placed at the beginning of a sentence. ‘Were’ on the other hand is the plural past for ‘are’.
Were vs Where
The difference between were and where is that, ‘were’ is a plural past verb form whereas ‘where’ is an adverb that prevails with the time.
Comparison Table Between Were and Where (in Tabular Form)
|Parameter of Comparison||Where||Were|
|Pronunciation||Phonetically, where rhymes with air||‘Were’ is a word that rhymes with her|
|Meaning||Points towards directions or location||Is used to denote an action, and is plural.|
|Usage||Can function as an adverb or conjunction||The past tense of ‘to be’|
|Position||Where belongs to the 5ws league, hence is usually placed at the beginning of a sentence.||Were is positioned usually after a noun.|
|Example||Where do you live?||They were sitting together.|
When to Use Were?
The word ‘were’ is usually used to denote the presence of objects or persons. The word is the plural form of ‘are’.
The immediate translation of ‘were’ is the “state of being or to be”. As per the English syntax, were is usually placed in the middle of the sentence. ‘Were’ is a verb i.e it describes an action.
‘Were’ is the past form of the word ‘are’. When ‘was’ word is pluralized it becomes ‘were’. The word ‘is’ is homologous to ‘was’, and the word ‘are’ is homologous to ‘were’.
Examples of the usage of the word were
- Last year, we were forced to celebrate Christmas at the village.
- Yesterday, we all were waiting for you at the cafe.
In the above sentences, the word ‘were’ denoted the presence of individuals, who are clearly more than one. The sentences are in the past tense, which means the said event has already occurred.
If it was about a present event, ‘are’ would have been used instead. Similarly, if the vent involved just one individual instead of multiple entities, the word was would be used. Lastly, if the event was in the present tense and would involve a single entity, ‘is’ would have been more appropriate.
The trickiest part about using the word for non-native speakers can be pronouncing the word ‘were’. Were, for instance, has no ‘h’, yet it’s pronunciation rhymes with ‘her’. It is worth noting that a slight sound of h, in the beginning, can help in pronouncing. It is pronounced as ‘hwer’ instead of ‘were’. The ‘e’ in the end is silent.
Besides the pronunciation. The word ‘were’ can also be used in a question, but unlike ‘where’ it will never pertain to the location of the said entity.
For example- Were you present are her wedding? All other rules, including the tenses and plurality, remain intact in the above sentence.
When to Use Where?
The word ‘where’ is an adverb. It is usually placed in the begging of a sentence. Where is a questioning word, hence sentences with the word are usually followed by a question mark at the end.
‘Where’ asks for the location or place of someone or something. hence is an adverb which pertains to time. ‘Where’ is the part of 5 W league of question words along with four other words, Who, What, When and Why.
The word is commonly confused with were and we’re, which once again phonetically similar but very different in terms of usage. The word where other than being an adverb can also be used as a conjunction, that is it can be used between two sentences. Either way, the characteristic of this word remains that it is used to ask questions regarding a person’s or entities’ location.
The word ’where‘ as a conjunction is typically used to replace the phrase ‘in the place’. For example,
You will find the girl where everybody goes to eat icecream.
In this case, where is not used at the beginning of a sentence, nor does it suggest that the given sentence is a question. Instead, the word where indicates the location of the said entity.
Main Differences Between Were and Where
- The main difference between’ where ‘and ‘were’ is that where, is that, ‘were’ is a verb while ‘where’ is an adverb.
- Phonetically, Where rhymes with air, while ‘were’ rhymes with her. There is a soft sound of h in the beginning of the word ‘were’.
- The word ‘were’ is used as the past plural for ‘was’, while where indicates the location of a said entity.
- Where is a part of the 5-Ws of question words, while were cannot be used as a question word.
- Where can also be used as a conjunction, while were is reserved for indicating past plural entities.
English as a language can turn out to be quite confusing especially for people who are not native speakers due to complex syntactical rules and certain pronunciations. A class of words called homophones are basically words that have similar pronunciation but different spelling and completely different usage.
The words were and where can be called homophones, even though there is a slight variation in their pronunciation. Nevertheless, these words are used in a completely different context. The phonetic confusion can definitely lead to incorrect use.
Typically the biggest difference between where and were is that the later pertains to location, while the former is a questioning word.