Word Confusion: We’re vs Were vs Where

Posted October 26, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

It’s those contractions again…I swear. Contractions are a handy tool for easing dialogue into reality, making people sound true. But it does seem to confuse the heck out of writers. Always remember that — if you see an apostrophe — a letter or two (or three) has been removed from that contracted word.

We are becomes we’re — and never was it where — and eliminates that space between and the a. It’s the apostrophe that tells us so. And, yes, lol, it is English, so it is not a hard and fast rule, as apostrophes also indicate possession.

Besides, think how silly or stiff we’d sound if we went about uncontracted: we are going to the cinema, you are correct, or I am howling with laughter as opposed to we’re going to the cinema, you’re right, or I’m howling with laughter. I almost feel as if that second couple going to a movie is about to invite me along…

You may be wondering why are and were can’t be the same contraction, we’re. The problem is that were is the plural past-tense form of are and is never used in a contraction. You’re just gonna have to suck it up.

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

You may be curious about another “were – where” post at Ware vs Wear vs Were vs Where“.

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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We’re Were Where
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

Movie poster has lilac background and the busts of three people with the actors' names at the top

“Now We’re in the Air poster” is courtesy of Paramount and is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Upright black werewolf running alongside a stream

“Werewolf” by PJ Nelson is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license, via VisualHunt.

A twisty path beneath overhanging trees

“Shades” is by akashunnikrishnan under the CC BY 2.0 license, via VisualHunt

I wonder where this path goes?

Part of Grammar:
Pronoun, first person plural + Verb (2nd person singular present and 1st, 2nd, 3rd person plural present of be Noun 1
Plural: weres
Prefix 2
Verb 3 is the second person singular past, plural past, a past subjunctive of to be, an auxiliary, and a
linking verb

Gerund and present participle: being

Adverb, interrogative or
Noun; Pronoun
Contraction for we are

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

[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

Mom, we’re heading out now.

We’re going over to catch the football game at Jamie’s.

Can’t you see that we’re busy?

We’re having a baby!

We were out looking at houses, and we’re buying one.

Did you hear we’re going skiing up at Chad’s place the end of the month?

We’re dressing up for Halloween as Yuck and Yack.

We’re so sad to see you go.

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.

be about
be off
History of the Word:
First known use: c. 1529 1 Old English wer, from Proto-Germanic weraz, which is from Proto-Indo-European wiHrós, meaning man.

2 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.

3 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:

Loup Garou is a lithograph by George Sand, 1858, and is courtesy of Paris, bibliothèque des Arts décoratifs, and Dinosoria. It is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons and has been brightened and the contrast increased.

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