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Are vs. Were: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on January 11, 2024
"Are" is the present tense plural form of "to be," used for current states or actions, while "were" is the past tense plural form, used for past states or actions.
Are vs. Were

Key Differences

"Are" is present tense, plural, indicating a current state or action. "Were" is past tense, plural, referring to a state or action in the past.
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Jan 11, 2024
Sentences with "are" describe current conditions ("They are happy"), while "were" describes past conditions ("They were happy").
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Jan 11, 2024
"Are" is used with plural subjects in the present tense. "Were" is used with plural subjects in the past tense, and with singular subjects in the subjunctive mood.
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Jan 11, 2024
"Are" does not appear in the subjunctive mood. "Were" is used in the subjunctive for hypothetical or unreal situations ("If I were you...").
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Jan 11, 2024
Both "are" and "were" are forms of the verb "to be," adapting to different tenses and subjects.
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Jan 11, 2024
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Comparison Chart

Tense

Present
Past
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Subject Agreement

Plural subjects
Plural subjects and singular in subjunctive mood
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Example Usage

"They are going to the store."
"They were at the store yesterday."
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Subjunctive Mood

Not used
Used for hypotheticals ("If I were...")
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Indicative of

Current state or action
Past state or action
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Are and Were Definitions

Are

Existence
There are four apples in the basket.
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Dec 20, 2023

Were

Past Tense Plural Verb
They were classmates.
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Dec 20, 2023

Are

Condition
The lights are bright.
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Dec 20, 2023

Were

Condition in Past
The streets were crowded yesterday.
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Dec 20, 2023

Are

Second person singular and plural and first and third person plural present indicative of be.
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Dec 13, 2023
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Were

Past State of Being
The keys were in the drawer.
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Dec 20, 2023

Are

A metric unit of area equal to 100 square meters (119.6 square yards).
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Dec 13, 2023

Were

Past Action
We were walking in the park.
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Dec 20, 2023

Are

Inflection of be
Mary, where are you going?
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Dec 13, 2023

Were

Hypothetical Situation
If I were a bird, I'd fly high.
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Dec 20, 2023

Are

Inflection of be
We are not coming.
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Dec 13, 2023

Were

Second person singular and plural and first and third person plural past indicative of be.
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Dec 13, 2023

Are

Inflection of be
Mary and John, are you listening?
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Dec 13, 2023

Were

Past subjunctive of be. See Usage Notes at if, wish.
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Dec 13, 2023

Are

Inflection of be
They are here somewhere.
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Dec 13, 2023

Were

Inflection of be
John, you were the only person to see him.
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Dec 13, 2023

Are

Inflection of be
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Dec 13, 2023

Were

Inflection of be
We were about to leave.
Mary and John, you were right.
They were a fine group.
They were to be the best of friends from that day on.
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Dec 13, 2023

Are

(rare) An accepted (but deprecated and rarely used) metric unit of area equal to 100 square metres, or a former unit of approximately the same extent. Symbol: a.
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Dec 13, 2023

Were

Inflection of be
I wish that it were Sunday.
I wish that I were with you.
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Dec 13, 2023

Are

Misspelling of our
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Were

(Northern England) be.
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Dec 13, 2023

Are

The present indicative plural of the substantive verb to be; but etymologically a different word from be, or was. Am, art, are, and is, all come from the root as.
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Dec 13, 2023

Were

(fandom) The collective name for any kind of person that changes into another form under certain conditions, including the werewolf.
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Are

The unit of superficial measure, being a square of which each side is ten meters in length; 100 square meters, or about 119.6 square yards.
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Dec 13, 2023

Were

To wear. See 3d Wear.
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Dec 13, 2023

Are

A unit of surface area equal to 100 square meters
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Dec 13, 2023

Were

To guard; to protect.
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Dec 13, 2023

Are

Present Tense Plural Verb
They are friends.
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Dec 20, 2023

Were

A weir. See Weir.
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Dec 13, 2023

Are

State of Being
The books are on the table.
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Dec 20, 2023

Were

A man.
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Dec 13, 2023

Are

Current Action
The students are studying now.
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Dec 20, 2023

Were

A fine for slaying a man; the money value set upon a man's life; weregild.
Every man was valued at a certain sum, which was called his were.
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Dec 13, 2023

Were

The imperfect indicative plural, and imperfect subjunctive singular and plural, of the verb be. See Be.
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Dec 13, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

When do you use 'are'?

With plural subjects in the present tense.
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Jan 11, 2024

What is 'were'?

Past tense plural form of "to be."
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Jan 11, 2024

Can 'were' be used with singular subjects?

Yes, in the subjunctive mood.
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Jan 11, 2024

Is 'are' used in questions?

Yes, in present tense questions.
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Jan 11, 2024

Is 'were' used in past tense questions?

Yes, it is.
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Jan 11, 2024

Can 'are' indicate location?

Yes, as in "They are here."
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Jan 11, 2024

Can 'were' indicate past location?

Yes, as in "They were there."
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Jan 11, 2024

What is 'are'?

Present tense plural form of "to be."
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Jan 11, 2024

When do you use 'were'?

With plural subjects in the past tense.
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Jan 11, 2024

Can 'were' be used with "I"?

Yes, in the subjunctive mood.
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Jan 11, 2024

Does 'were' change in third person?

No, it remains "were."
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Jan 11, 2024

Is 'are' used in the subjunctive mood?

No, it is not.
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Jan 11, 2024

Example of 'were' in a question?

"Were you at the party?"
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Jan 11, 2024

Does 'are' change in third person?

No, it remains "are."
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Jan 11, 2024

Can 'are' be used with "I"?

No, use "am" instead.
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Jan 11, 2024

Example of 'are' in a question?

"Are you coming?"
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Jan 11, 2024

How is 'were' used in a sentence?

To describe past states or actions.
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Jan 11, 2024

Can 'were' be used for future tense?

No, it's strictly past tense.
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Jan 11, 2024

How is 'are' used in a sentence?

As a main verb or auxiliary verb.
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Jan 11, 2024

Is 'are' ever used in past tense?

No, it's only present tense.
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Jan 11, 2024

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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