Were vs we’re

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Were and we’re are two words that are often confused, especially if the writer does not understand the function of the apostrophe in the middle of a word. We will examine the meanings of the words were and we’re, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Were is the past tense of the verb to be. It is used with the second person singular and plural (with the pronoun you), the plural past (with the pronouns we or they), and the subjunctive mood (statements that are wishful, often using the word if). The verb to be is perhaps the most versatile verb in the English language, and often the most difficult to understand. The verb to be is highly irregular in most languages. The English verb to be is highly irregular because it is derived from several different sources: Old English, Proto-Indo-European and Proto-Germanic. Were is derived from the Old English word wæron, which evolved into the word wast, then wert, then finally, were.

We’re is a contraction of the words we are. Contractions are two words combined in an abbreviated word form, the apostrophe representing the omitted letters. A contraction is an abbreviation of two words. The apostrophe is used to generally indicate where the letters have been removed. The omitted letters are replaced by an apostrophe. The letter a is omitted in the word we’re. Contractions may be considered informal language, and their usage is sometimes limited to more personal or friendly correspondence, though some people believe contractions are acceptable grammar in all situations.

The word were (rhymes with her), is a form of the verb to be. The word we’re (rhymes with steer), is a contraction of the words we are. It is easy to remember the difference between these two words if one learns to recognize a contraction, an abbreviated word form with an apostrophe representing omitted letters.


“Whether or not you would think or say this sober, pumped up on drugs and alcohol as you were, you thought yourself a lord of the local manor,” he said. (The Manchester Evening News)

The study did not attempt to explain why some people were sleeping less now than they were 13 years ago, though the researchers suggest stress could be a factor. (Science News)

Apter told The Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday: ‘They were clashing, in part due to the direction Johns wanted to take the band, but also about personal matters.’ (The Daily Mail)

“We’re going to build a wall, and to all those Americans who want us to abandon the wall and open up the border, that’s what this fight’s about.” (The Huffington Post)

We’re gonna get better because this team has a chance to get better. (The Detroit News)

So I guess we’re pretty much all newborns this season, our tears dripping like tinsel. (The Los Angeles Times)