Using Where vs Were

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  • 0:04 Were vs. Where
  • 0:44 Where
  • 1:38 Were
  • 2:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Charles Kinney, Jr.
Where and were are easily confused words. They sound similar but mean two very different things. They are often mistaken for each other, especially in writing. In this lesson, you'll learn the correct usage of where and were.

Were vs. Where

Zoe had two dogs. They were brown and white. One hot day, Zoe left her back gate open and the dogs ran away. She did not know where her dogs were. Zoe wondered to herself, 'Where are my dogs?' While she was searching for them, her neighbor called and asked if Zoe could go over to her house. Once, there, Zoe found her dogs! They were swimming in her neighbor's swimming pool!

Where, which rhymes with 'bear,' and were, which rhymes with 'fur,' are often confused, even by native English speakers. Where can function as an adverb or a conjunction, while were is the past plural tense of the verb 'to be.'


Where is a word that has to do with a location or directions. Where can function as an adverb, a word modifying an action. Where is also a conjunction, a word used to link two parts of a sentence together.

Where as an Adverb

In the following examples, where has to do with a location or situation:

  • Where is the coffee shop?
  • Sit where I can see you.
  • Do you know where she is?
  • He lives where the old school used to be.

Where as a Conjunction

In these next two examples, where functions as a conjunction:

  • We performed in a play where we pretended to be animals.
  • Where it gets confusing, is in the middle of the chapter.

Where is also sometimes used to mean 'in which'. For example, instead of saying:

  • This is a situation in which I do not know what to do.

We can say:

  • This is a situation where I do not know what to do.

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