Word Confusion: Ware vs Wear vs Were vs Where

Posted August 21, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 13 October 2017

“Ware the wear-were-where confusion,” she cried.

Seriously, there is a major confusion and primarily between were, we’re, and where. I swear, I don’t know how it is possible to confuse were with where — if this one is a problem child for you, try thinking of where here is. It’s HERE Where it is.

As for we’re and were, please remember that contractions mean a letter has been removed — the apostrophe is the signal that a letter is missing, therefore we’re is actually we are, and there just ain’t no way that we are looks like were.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Ware Wear Were Where
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Common Errors in English Usage; Dictionary.com: ware and wear

“Examples of Porcelain Production in the City of Tuštanj” is Žiga‘s own work at Slovenian Wikipedia and in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I’d love ware like this in my kitchen.

Cheap Costco Shoes” is a post courtesy of More Normal Than Not.

A bit of wear on these tennis shoes render them useless for church.

“They Were My Friends” by Ed Schipul from Houston, Texas, U.S., is under the CC-BY-SA-2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

“You Are Here” courtesy of P L Chadwick is under the CC-BY-SA-2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Maps can be useful for showing where you are.

Part of Grammar:
Adjective 1;
Combined Form; Noun 2, 4, 5;
Verb, transitive 3

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: wares
Past tense or past participle: wared
Gerund or present participle: waring

Noun 6;
Verb, complement, intransitive, or transitive

Plural for the noun and third person present verb: wears
Past tense: wore
Past participle: worn 6 or wore 7
Gerund or present participle: wearing

Noun 8
Plural: weres
Prefix 9
Verb 10 is the second person singular past, plural past, and past subjunctive of to be and an auxiliary and
linking verb

Gerund and present participle: being

Adverb, interrogative or
Noun; Pronoun

[Archaic] Aware

Watchful, wary, or cautious

Combined Form:
Denoting articles made of ceramic or used in cooking and serving food

Denoting a kind of software

Pottery, usually of a specific type

Articles offered for sale

  • A specified kind or class of merchandise or of manufactured article (usually used in combination)

[Archaeology] A group of ceramic types classified according to paste and texture, surface modification, as burnish or glaze, and decorative motifs rather than shape and color

Verb, transitive:
Usually used in the imperative

Used as a warning cry, typically in a hunting context

  • To beware of

[Scottish and North England] To spend 4


The first season in the year 5


To have on

The wearing of something

The state of being worn as clothing

Clothing suitable for a particular purpose

Damage or deterioration sustained from continuous use

Capacity for withstanding continuous use

Verb, complement:
Damage, erode, or destroy by friction or use

  • Undergo damage, erosion, or destruction by friction or use

Verb, intransitive:
[Wear on] Cause weariness or fatigue to
Withstand continued use or life in a specified way

[Wear on; of a period of time] Pass, especially slowly or tediously

Verb, transitive:
Have on one’s body or a part of one’s body as clothing, decoration, protection, or for some other purpose

  • Habitually have on one’s body or be dressed in
  • Exhibit or present a particular facial expression or appearanceM.
  • Have one’s hair or beard at a specified length or arranged in a specified style
  • [Of a ship] Fly a flag

Damage, erode, or destroy by friction or use: the track has been worn down in part to bare rock

  • Form (a hole, path, etc., by constant friction or use
  • [British; informal; usually with negative ] Tolerate
  • Accept
  • [Literary] Pass a period of time in some activity
  • [Sailing] Bring a ship about by turning its head away from the wind 7

    Most commonly, to be

    [Archaic] Man, as in human male

    [Fandom slang] The collective name for any kind of person that changes into another form under certain conditions, including the werewolf

    • [Archaic] Werewolf, as in man-wolf

    A style of artwork that involves anthropomorphic creatures in an often digitrade form

    WW:tA gamers

    Roleplayers who want to fit into a community to feel “speshul”

    A military force, a band of troops

    (Also wered and wering)

    Most commonly used with animal names to indicate a person who changes shape into that animal

    Were cannot be used as a contraction:
    As the plural past-tense form of are, were is never used in a contraction.

    We’re is the contraction for we are, and the same applies to you’re meaning you are, and they’re is they are.

    [Usually there is/are] Exist

    Be present

    [With adverbial] Occur

    • Take place
    • Occupy a position in space
    • Stay in the same place or condition
    • Attend
    • Come
    • Go
    • Visit

    [Informal] Say

    Verb, auxiliary:
    Used with a present participle to form continuous tenses

    Used with a past participle to form the passive mood

    [With infinitive] Used to indicate something due to happen

    • Used to express obligation or necessity
    • Used to express possibility
    • Used to hypothesize about something that might happen

    [Archaic] Used with the past participle of intransitive verbs to form perfect tenses

    Verb, linking:
    Having the state, quality, identity, nature, role, etc., specified

    • Cost
    • Amount to
    • Represent
    • Signify
    • Consist of
    • Constitute
    A place

    Interrogative Adverb:
    In or to what place or position

    • In what direction or respect
    • In or from what source
    • In or to what situation or condition

    Relative Adverb:
    At, in, or to which (used after reference to a place or situation)

    The place or situation in which

    • In or to a place or situation in which
    • In or to any place in which
    • Wherever

    [Informal] That


    The place

    The scene of something

    What place?

    The place in which

    Point at which

    Thou speak’st wiser than thou art ware of.

    Combined Form:

    I need some new bakeware.

    Check out this shareware.

    This new groupware we got streamlines the workload.

    I hate spyware.

    Some collect majolica ware.

    Sellers at the flea market display their wares.

    Mary, can you set the silverware around the table?

    You can’t go wrong with glassware as a wedding gift.

    Ware the ghosts of Christmas past!

    There are some new dresses just in for wear in the evening.

    Have you any sportswear?

    There’s not a lot of wear on these shoes.

    Verb, complement:
    The track has been worn down in part to bare rock.

    The mountains are wearing down with each passing second.

    Verb, intransitive:
    Some losses can wear on you.

    There aren’t many carpet-type finishes that wear well.

    As the afternoon wore on, he began to look unhappy.

    Verb, transitive:
    He was wearing a dark suit.

    Both ladies wore a bunch of violets.

    Although she was a widow, she didn’t wear black.

    They wear a frozen smile on their faces.

    The students wore their hair long.

    The pirate ship wore a Venezuelan flag.

    The water was forced up through holes it had worn.

    The environmental health people wouldn’t wear it.

    Wearing half the day, they spun long tales.

    The captain gave orders to wear ship.

    She takes pride in her spirituality as a were, although to know her from the outside, one would never suspect.

    There are some awesome were artists out there, but don’t they draw anything else?

    Hey, look, another self-proclaimed were has found their way to the boards.

    Didn’t you know that Jake was a were?




    Were there any castles in this area?

    There were no easy answers.

    There were no curtains around the showers.

    If the exhibition were in November, I could attend.

    We were here.

    They were headed over to the theatre.

    Most of us were hungover.

    If I were you…

    Weren’t you at the game last night?

    We were coming tonight, but the car broke down.

    Where were you?

    When I got there, they were like “What are you doing here?”

    Verb, auxiliary:
    They were coming.

    If it were said…

    If his book were to be published this fall, we would get a jump on the competition.

    If construction were to begin next summer instead of next fall, it could be finished by three months earlier.

    If I were to meet him at 6:30, I could see you at 9.

    You were to follow these orders.

    If I were to lose, the results would be catastrophic.

    If I were to tell you, you’d think I was crazy.

    Verb, linking:
    If Amy and Max were 91 then, you must have been 64.

    Jayne’s parents weren’t doing well.

    The tickets were $25.

    We were everything to each other.

    The multi-story buildings were all over the campus.

    Interrogative Adverb:
    Where do you live?

    Where are you from?

    Where is she going?

    Where do you come from?

    Where does the argument lead?

    Where did you read that?

    Just where is all this leading us?

    Relative Adverb:
    I first saw him in Paris, where I lived in the early sixties.

    Sit where I can see you.

    This is where I live.

    Where people were concerned, his threshold of boredom was low.

    He was free to go where he liked.

    I see where the Red Sox lost again.

    Where some caregivers burn out, others become too involved.

    Do you see where the men in your life are emotionally unavailable to you?

    I see where the hotel has changed hands again.

    Where some caregivers burn out, others become too involved.

    It’s where the fire was.

    It’s where he was living when I knew him.

    Boston Store is where I got my new bathing suit.

    Where did you come from?

    This is where the boat docks.

    That was where the phone rang.

    Adjective: unwearing
    Adverb: wearingly
    Noun: wearer
    Phrasal Verb
    wear someone down
    wear something down
    wear off
    wear out
    wear something out
    wear someone out
    be about
    be off
    History of the Word:
    1 Old English wær from a Germanic base of ware.

    2 Old English waru for commodities.

    3 Old English warian from a Germanic base meaning observe, take care.

    4 1300-50; Middle English from the Old Norse verja meaning to spend, invest.

    5 1250-1300; Middle English from the Old Norse vār meaning spring. It may be akin to the Latin vēr or the Greek éar meaning spring.

    6 Old English werian, originally from the Latin vestis for clothing

    7 Early 17th century.

    8 Old English wer, from Proto-Germanic weraz, which is from Proto-Indo-European wiHrós, meaning man.

    9 Back-formation from werewolf, meaning man-wolf, which is from Old English werwulf, derived from wer, meaning man, from Proto-Indo-European wiHrós, meaning man + wulf, meaning wolf.

    10 Old English from an Indo-European root for remain

    Old English hwær of Germanic origin.

    C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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    Pinterest Photo Credits

    This advertising poster, Palais de glace, Champs Elysées, is by Jules Chéret which is itself a derivative work by trialsanderrors in the public domain while Adrar Teapot is Ji-Elle’s own work under the GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 licenses. Both are via Wikimedia Commons.