May 22, 2017

Do I Use Were or We're?

Some get confused between the words were and we're. Let's look at the difference and a simple way to self-correct. 


Jennifer Kumar, author, at the Taj Mahal
in the year 2000. Read more here.
Were - When to Use
While "were" is second person singular past, plural past, and past subjunctive of be, I promise not to get too much into the technical aspects of grammar here. Were is used to talk about somebody having been somewhere. For instance, we could say, "Where were you?" or "Were you at the Taj Mahal?" or even, "They were at the Taj Mahal." 

When we are talking about someone being somewhere "were" is spelled as one word without the apostrophe between the e and the r. For example, "We're you at the Taj Mahal?" is incorrect. 

*Note: While "we're" and "were" are pretty much pronounced the same, "where" and "were" do not sound the same. The video below will help you to get the difference easily and quickly.



We're - When to Use 
We're is a contraction. That means this word is actually made up of two words. We + are = we're. Hence, the words we're and were have two different meanings. 

We're does not expand to we were.

While it is perfectly fine to say, "Where were you?" it is not at all correct to write, "Where we're you?"  (Note: In spoken English "were" and "we're" are pronounced the same way.)
While saying, "Were you at the Taj Mahal?" is correct, "We're you at the Taj Mahal?" is incorrect. 

Can "We're" and "Were" Come in the Same Sentence?
As "we're" is present tense and "were" is in versions of past tense sentences, it's doubtful.

Learn to Self-Correct: We're vs. Were 
In my eyes, the easiest way to try to self-correct is to write the sentence with "we're" then again expanding this to "we are" and see if the sentence still makes sense. If it does, then "we're" is the correct word. However, if it doesn't make sense, then "were" is the correct word.


Examples:
With "we're": Where we're you? 
Expanded: Where we are you?
Ask yourself: "Does this make sense?"
If yes, then keep it as "we're," if not, change it to "were."
In this case it is WRONG. So, we must write, "Where were you?"

With "we're": We're going to the Taj Mahal?
Expanded: We are going to the Taj Mahal?
Ask yourself: "Does this make sense?"
If yes, then keep it as "we're," if not, change it to "were."
In this case it is RIGHT, so no changes are needed.

With "we're": We're you at the Taj Mahal?
Expanded: We are you at the Taj Mahal?
Ask yourself: "Does this make sense?"
If yes, then keep it as "we're," if not, change it to "were."
In this case it is WRONG. So, we must write, "Were you at the Taj Mahal?"

With "we're": They we're at the Taj Mahal.
Expanded: They we are at the Taj Mahal.
Ask yourself: "Does this make sense?"
If yes, then keep it as "we're," if not, change it to "were."
In this case it is WRONG. So, we must write, "They were at the Taj Mahal."

I hope these tips help you to self-correct your English grammar when using the words "were" and "we're." Feel free to get in touch with us if you'd like to take grammar or email coaching with our grammar experts over Skype.

Related posts: 
How to use the full stop or period 
When to use the question mark 
When to use advice vs. advise 

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