Ware, Wear, and Where

Commonly Confused Words

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An Argentine woman setting up her wares in the marketplace. (MaryAnne Nelson/Getty Images)

The three words ware, wear, and where are homophones: they are pronounced the same but have different meanings.

Definitions

The noun ware means merchandise or (usually in the plural) things of the same kind that are for sale. (See the usage note below.) 

The verb wear has several meanings, including to have or carry on the person (wear a coat) and to diminish by constant use (wear a hole in your pocket).

The adverb and conjunction where refers to a place, position, or situation.

Also see: Commonly Confused Words: Were, We're, and Where

Examples

  • Manufacturers are rushing to produce commemorative ware and souvenirs (such as mugs and paperweights) to celebrate the upcoming royal wedding.
  • "Black men and women had begun to wear multicolored African prints. They moved through the Harlem streets like bright sails on a dark sea."
    (Maya Angelou, The Heart of a Woman. Random House, 1981)
  • "A person must not wear himself out with wanting what it is impossible to have. What is finished must be done with and put away."
    (Pam Durban, "Soon." The Southern Review, 1997)
  • "You can't have everything. Where would you put it?"
    (Steven Wright)
  • "[S]avvy marketers have found subtle ways to sell themselves and their wares where people socialize online."
    (Court Cunningham and Stephanie Brown, Local Online Advertising For Dummies. Wiley, 2010)
  • "Today, corporations govern our life. They determine what we eat, what we watch, what we wear, where we work, and what we do."
    (Joel Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power. Penguin, 2004)
  • "I was a stranger and he liked to have a fresh market for his jokes, the most of them having reached that stage of wear where the teller has to do the laughing himself while the other person looks sick."
    (Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, 1889)

    Usage Note

    • "Ware is an Old English word meaning merchandise, goods made for sale. A warehouse is a place where you store these goods.  Although ware is not used today, it is still present in compound words: earthenware, hardware, software, shareware, Tupperware, kitchenware, silverware, flatware."
      (Jo Phenix, The Spelling Teacher's Book of Lists, 2nd ed. Pembroke, 2003)

    Practice


    (a) "A bank is a place _____ they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain."
    (Robert Frost, quoted in Muscatine Journal, August 22, 1961)

    (b) "The grooms _____ smart gray pinstripe suits and the women are in beaded gowns so beautiful they make your teeth hurt just to look at them."
    (Pam Houston, "The Best Girlfriend You Never Had." Other Voices, 1999)

    (c) "Table after table displayed a variety of delicious _____: candied nuts and nuts dusted with savory coatings, so many different types of cheese that it was easy to lose count, homemade oils and vinegars flavored with hot chiles or roasted garlic and basil, and rich-tasting dips and spreads made with roasted peppers or sun-dried tomatoes or rich pesto."
    (Charisse Goodman, The Starved Senses. Dog Ear, 2010)

    (d) "If you are a dog and your owner suggests that you _____ a sweater, suggest that he _____ a tail."
    (Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies, 1981)

    Answers to Practice Exercises

    (a) "A bank is a place where they lend you an umbrella in fair weather and ask for it back when it begins to rain."
    (Robert Frost)

    (b) "The grooms wear smart gray pinstripe suits and the women are in beaded gowns so beautiful they make your teeth hurt just to look at them."
    (Pam Houston, "The Best Girlfriend You Never Had." Other Voices, 1999)

    (c) "Table after table displayed a variety of delicious wares: candied nuts and nuts dusted with savory coatings, so many different types of cheese that it was easy to lose count, homemade oils and vinegars flavored with hot chiles or roasted garlic and basil, and rich-tasting dips and spreads made with roasted peppers or sun-dried tomatoes or rich pesto."
    (Charisse Goodman, The Starved Senses. Dog Ear, 2010)

    (d) "If you are a dog and your owner suggests that you wear a sweater, suggest that he wear a tail."
    (Fran Lebowitz)

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    Your Citation
    Nordquist, Richard. "Ware, Wear, and Where." ThoughtCo, May. 17, 2018, thoughtco.com/ware-wear-and-where-1689526. Nordquist, Richard. (2018, May 17). Ware, Wear, and Where. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ware-wear-and-where-1689526 Nordquist, Richard. "Ware, Wear, and Where." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ware-wear-and-where-1689526 (accessed May 23, 2018).