English Grammar is a vast spectrum of words and the rules associated with each word. Every word in English has a grammatical category to which it belongs. Some may even belong to more than one category according to their usage and intention in the sentence. 'Were' and 'Where' are such words that belong to different classifications under English Grammar.
'Were' is a verb. For that, let's understand what are verbs and their kinds. Verbs are doing words. They indicate actions and occurrences. Verbs are of various kinds:
- Regular and Irregular verbs - Most verbs are regular verbs. Regular verbs' past form ends with -ed or -d. Irregular verbs' past form ends with another suffix other than -ed or -d. Example- Regular: She finished her homework. Irregular: Andrew swam in all lakes.
- Transitive and Intransitive verbs - Transitive verbs require a direct object to act upon. Intransitive verbs do not require a direct object. Example- Transitive: Harry buys groceries. (object) Intransitive: He coughed loudly (adverb).
- Linking verbs - Linking verbs connect the subject with the subject complement(an adjective that describes the subject). Example- Sheena is rude.
- Auxiliary or Helping verbs - These include forms of be, do, and have. They combine with the main verb to modify its tense, mood, or voice. Example - I am playing. Here, am is an auxiliary verb and play is the main verb. Were belongs to this category.
'Where' is an adverb. Adverb describes a verb. Note: An adverb should describe a verb in the sentence and not a noun. Otherwise, it is an adjective.
- Adverb of Manner - It describes how an action is being performed. Example- Jessica reads silently.
- Adverb of Degree - They express the extent or degree. Example- They are almost working.
- Adverb of Time - It describes when the action happened. Example- I will come tomorrow.
- Adverb of Purpose - They describe why something is happening. Example- Since you are praying, I'll call you back.
- Interrogative Adverbs - When, Why, Where, How, and What- are used to introduce a verb. Example- Why are you yelling? 'Why' (adverb) is used for asking the reason for 'yelling' (verb). 'Where' belongs to this category of Adverbs.
The above-given information was the introductory synopsis of the categories to which 'Were' and 'Where' belong. Let's look at their differences to have a better understanding.
Were vs Where
Were and Where are different from each other in a big way. The major difference is the part of speech that they both belong to. 'Were' is a verb whereas 'Where' is an adverb. ‘Were’ is a verb that is a past tense plural of the base verb 'be'. 'Where' is an interrogative adverb used to ask questions related to locations.
For example- The birds were chirping in the morning.
Where was she going today?
‘Were’ is used only in the past continuous tense, where is not bounded by time or tense.
For example- The plants were growing very fast.
Here the italicized words 'were growing' denote past continuous tense; something that was happening in the past. If we replace 'were' with any other helping verb, it will change the meaning and time of the sentence.
On the contrary, 'Where' is not time bounded.
For instance- Where were you playing?
Here, 'where' is not deciding the tense, it is just asking about the location. If you interchange 'where' with another interrogative adverb, this will only change the question, not the time.
We will discuss in detail about their differences in the table given below.
Difference Between Were and Where in Tabular Form
|Parameters of Comparison||Were||Where|
|Meaning||‘Were’ is the plural form of Was.||Where is used to refer to a place or location.|
|Part of speech||‘Were’ is an Auxiliary or helping verb. It assist the main verb of the sentence.||Where is used as an interrogative adjective and as a Conjunction.|
|Tense||‘Were’ is used only in the past continuous tense.||Where is not tense restricted. It can be used in any tense.|
|Usage||The past continuous tense is organized by using the helping verb ‘were’ in front of the –ing form of the main verb in the sentence.||It is used for asking what place someone or something is in or what place.|
|Assertive Example||You were playing badminton yesterday.They were singing a song at the party.||I don’t know where she gets these ideas from.London is the city where my aunt lives.|
|Interrogative Example||Were they partying all night?Were the children studying every day?Were the sailors coming back?||Where are her parents going?Where shall we meet today?Where can the storm hit in the coming days?|
|Other uses||It is used to define a change of mind/opinion and to refer to something in the future when the statement was said.||It is used to ask or say what the origin of something is and also used for referring to a specific place that someone or something is in or that they go to often.|
What is Were?
We know 'Were' as the plural form for 'Was'. But, other than that, there are other definitions of 'Were' and its uses in varied senses and intents. The verb ‘Were’ tells us about an action that was happening in the past.
‘Were’ is a Helping or Auxiliary verb of the past tense. It originates from the ‘To Be’ group of Helping Verbs. Helping verbs of the past tense show an action or a state of being in the past tense. For example –
- The children were playing cricket on the field.
- The students were singing very sweetly.
Some other helping verbs of the past are- was, did, and had.
Now, look at these sentences:
- The students were studying for an hour.
- Harry's parents were sitting at home when the phone rang.
- The teachers were talking to my mother while she was cooking.
The italicized words suggest that the actions were happening at some period before the time of speaking or they were interjected. This usage of verbs tells us that the verbs in these sentences are in the Past continuous tense. The Past Continuous Tense suggests actions or events in a time in the past which began in the past and were ongoing until some other event occurred. The past continuous tense is structured by using the helping verb ‘were’ in front of the –ing form of the main verb in the sentence.
For example –
- The family members were watching a movie the previous evening.
- George's friends were walking to the store yesterday.
Use of ‘Was’ –
‘Were’ is used to indicate:
- Two progressive actions happening at the same time with the time expression while.
Examples: The children were studying while the mothers were preparing snacks for him.
The car exploded while they were walking past.
- While adding a description to a narrative.
Example: They were returning home, the flowers were blooming, and the singers were singing on the street.
- a longer action that was interrupted by a shorter action – in such situations, the time expression when is used.
Example: The girls were playing outside when it began to rain.
The students were reading their books when the doorbell rang.
- to express a change of mind/opinion.
Example: They were going to read the letter, but they decided to complete their work.
- for making a courteous request at times.
Example: They were wondering if I could lend them my dress.
- to refer to something in the future when the statement was said.
Example: My friends promised they were going to call me to finalize the deal.
- for describing a background or producing the setting for a narrative.
Example: The dancers were dancing in the background when the hero entered.
Structure for the use of ‘Was’ –
The structure of a sentence when using ‘Were’:
Subject + were + main verb (base+ ing)
Example – They were resting.
Subject Main verb
What is ‘Where’?
'Where' is used to ask about the location of a place. 'Where' is used as a question adverb, a relative adverb, and a conjunction (connecting two clauses).
Uses of Where
- It is used for asking what place someone or something is in or what place.
Examples-Where is the meeting today?
Where are her relatives going?
Where will she have her birthday?
Do you where she resides?
- Used for referring to a particular place that someone or something is in or that they go to often.
Examples-This drawer is where she keeps all her important things.
Put the alarm clock where I can see it.
They led us to the dining room, where dinner was being served.
- It is used for questioning or referring to a circumstance or a point in a procedure, conversation, or story.
Examples-Where shall we start?
Finally, I arrived at the point where I was beginning to enjoy my studies.
I may find myself in a situation where I can’t pay my debts.
- Used to ask or say what the origin of something is
Example- I don’t know where he gets these ideas.
- Used when comparing two people, things, and actions and showing how they are different.
Example- Where a less resolute man might have admitted defeat Charles fought back with renewed dynamism.
Main Differences Between Were and Where (In Points)
- Where is used to denote a place or location. On the other hand, ‘Were’ is the plural form of Was.
Examples- Where are the priests going today?
The mosquitoes were biting me continuously.
- ‘Were’ is an auxiliary verb whereas ‘Where’ is an interrogative adverb.
Example-The teachers were teaching in the class.
Where was he going yesterday?
- ‘Were’ is used for making a polite request at times.
For example- My friends were wondering if I could lend them my car.
Where is used when comparing two people, things, and actions and showing how are they different.
For example- Where my roommate fell asleep, I was still studying with full determination.
- 'Were' is a verb form of to be, and it is three different verb forms: second-person singular past tense, past subjunctive tense, and plural past tense. Examples- You were in the queue first. If they were in my shoes, they would have done the same thing. They were performing. 'Where' can be an interrogative adverb or a subordinating conjunction. Examples- Where are you going to send it? They performed an experiment where they were taught to measure buoyancy.”
- 'Where' is also used to refer to a typical place that someone or something is in or that they go to often.
Example- This is the cupboard where she keeps all the documents.
'Were' is used to describe a modification of opinion.
Example- My relatives were going to come today, but could not.
Were and Where may confuse people because of their spellings, but they are easy to understand if you learn their use and meanings. Were and Where belong to different Parts of Speech. As you may know, there are eight parts of speech. They include- Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs, Adverbs, Prepositions, Adjectives, Conjunction, and Interjections. 'Were' is a verb and in particular, a Helping verb. A verb describes an action or experience. 'Where' is an adverb and is also used as a conjunction. An adverb describes the verb; if an action is performed then how, when, where, or what is being performed. This is the primary difference between the two.
'Were' assists the main verb in the sentence.
For instance- They were coming yesterday.
In this sentence, the main verb is coming and the helping verb is 'were' which is denoting the tense.
Whereas 'Where' denotes that a question is being asked related to a place or location.
For instance- Where were they playing football?
Here, the location of playing football is being asked and is indicated by the interrogative adverb 'where'.
There are many more differences that are explained in this article. 'Were' and 'Where' are also clarified in detail with their usage. Elucidating the difference between 'Were' and 'Where' is the main motive of this article.