Mixing were and where can lead you down some interesting temporal and positional paths, but unless you’re a Time Lord, you should learn how to use them correctly. We’re going to find out how.
Photo: Eva Blue
We are once again in homophone territory, because in spoken English, there’s often no difference at all between where, were and we’re.
In online writing, however, I come across this one all too frequently, and it’s incredibly jarring because the meanings of the three words are starkly different.
Where is an adverb that refers to place or position, while were is the second person singular past, plural past, and past subjunctive of the word be, generally used to indicate mood or past events.
So to give a practical example: were you to get this wrong, I would stab you in the face. Where would I stab you? In the face.
It’s also complicated by writers missing the apostrophe in we’re, which is a contraction of “we are”.
Autocorrect is sometimes to blame here, because all three words are entirely accurate English, but that’s not an excuse if you want your communications to be clear. Accuracy matters.
Lifehacker’s Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.