Difference between are and were
Are vs were:
We all get a little apprehensive when it comes to the correct practice of grammar in any language. Likewise, all verbs of the English language should be observed with care and as a result, each verb needs to be conjugated according to the subject itself in a sentence. There are many different verbs in the English language which is why English grammar has become a rather confusing subject for students. The verb ‘to be’ is a particularly tricky one to deal with as it contains a large number of forms, each one being extremely different from one another. ‘Are’ and ‘were’ are two such forms of the verb ‘to be’ that students of English often tend to get confused between.
When do we use are?
‘Are’ is the present plural form of the verb “to be” which is one of the most commonly used verbs in the English language. It is used when the sentence is situated in the present and the subject in the sentence involves two or more objects or persons. ‘Are’ is also often used as a connecting verb to express the present continuous tense. Some examples of how ‘are’ is used are given below.
The boys are playing in the garden.
The students are going in to the classroom right now.
A man and a boy are walking towards us with various sweetmeats.
In the first sentence, the subject is singular as we are talking about multiple boys. They are playing in the garden which implies present tense. In the second sentence, the present continuous is implied as ‘are’ is used as the connecting verb along with the verb “to go”. In the third sentence, the subject involves two persons, a man and a boy and therefore, the verb ‘are’ is used.
‘Are’ is also used in when the subject is “you” in a sentence. This is due to the fact that “you” could be either a single person or multiple persons. Observe the following example.
You are late.
You are disgusting.
In the above sentence, the subject may either be singular or plural. Therefore, the word ‘are’ is used in the sentences.
When do we use ‘were’?
‘Were’ is the past plural tense of the verb ‘be’ and it is often used for referring to an incident regarding several entities which happened in the past. Observe the following sentences for example.
They were on that hill when we last saw them.
Both the boy and the girl were tall.
They were handsome men.
In the above sentences, the verb ‘were’ is used to indicate plural entities in the past tense. However, the verb ‘were’ can also be used as an auxiliary or a connecting verb in the past continuous tense. Observe the following examples.
They were climbing that tree when I last saw them.
Peter and Mary were holding hands.
In the above sentences, the subject is plural and the verb ‘were’ is used as a connecting verb in the past continuous tense. However, the verb ‘were’ can also be used in a past subjunctive sense. For example, let us look at the following sentences.
If I were rich, I would build a home for the poor.
If she were prettier, she would have been married off sooner.
What is the difference between are and were?
‘Are’ and ‘were’ are two forms of the verb “to be”. They are both very commonly used verbs and are used as connecting verbs in many cases. However, the tenses in the English language tend to be rather complex which is why the difference between ‘are’ and ‘were’ need to be thus closely observed.
‘Are’ is the present plural of the verb “to be” while ‘were’ is the past plural of the verb “to be”. The difference lies in the time during which the action is done. Observe the following examples.
The children are in the library.
The children were in the library.
The first sentence implies that the children are still in the library. The second sentence implies that the children were previously in the library and they are not there as the sentence is being spoken. Thereby, ‘are’ is used in order to refer to an action which is being performed at the present whereas “were’ is used for implying an action which has already been accomplished in the past.
Both ‘are’ and ‘were’ are used as connecting words for implying the continuous tense. However, ‘are’ is used for denoting the present continuous whereas ‘were’ is used to present the past continuous. Let us explore the following sentences.
The dogs are barking at the moon.
My friends were baking cookies.
In the first sentence, ‘are’ is used along with the verb “to bark” to imply an action which is already happening in the present. However, in the second sentence, ‘were’ is used to denote an action that was happening in the past. Therefore, while ‘are’ is used as a connector for present continuous tense, “were’ is often used as a connector for past continuous tense.