I ... my new shoes at the party.

Which option is appropriate to complete that sentence:

  1. wore

  2. put on

  3. was wearing

  4. was putting on


Putting on an item of clothing happens before wearing it. It can be anything: a shirt, a pair of shoes, a pair of socks. Even a piece of jewelry or a device such as a wristwatch. Here's the general rule:

Before you can wear something, you first have to put it on.

All of the options are more or less grammatical and semantically make perfect sense. However, they do mean slightly different things:

1. I wore my new shoes at the party.

This means that during the event you were wearing your new shoes which you had put on your feet before you left your house.

2. I put on my new shoes at the party.

This means that while you were at party, you decided to put on your new shoes. One way to think about this situation is that you came to the party with two pairs of shoes: the pair that you were already wearing and the new pair that you later used to switch the old pair with.

3. I was wearing my new shoes at the party.

This essentially means the same thing as sentence #1. The only difference is the verb tense that you're using—the past continuous instead of the simple past. The emphasis is on the duration of the process of wearing your new shoes. Without more context, that's pretty much all one can say about the meaning of this sentence.

4. I was putting on my new shoes at the party.

There is a problem with this sentence, though. It sounds a little bit incomplete. What you're essentially saying here is that while you were in the process of putting on your new pair of shoes, something else happened. But the problem is that you're not saying what it was. A simple fix could be something like this:

I was putting on my new shoes when I heard the explosion.
  • 4
    2 makes the most sense if it was your birthday party, and the new shoes were a present! – aslum Mar 14 '18 at 14:48
  • 8
    4 could be an answer to "Why were you standing on one leg in a cocktail dress?" – Pete Kirkham Mar 14 '18 at 16:34
  • 1
    2 could also be that you wore your new shoes to the party, took them off at some point, and are now putting them back on again. – Dan is Fiddling by Firelight Mar 14 '18 at 17:53
  • 2
    Yet another meaning for 2 could be that you were wearing regular shoes to get to the party but brought a more fancy pair that you put on when you got there. – Llewellyn Mar 14 '18 at 18:35
  • 1
    2 could be also a woman who walked to the party with comfort shoes and put her new high heels on there, as it is impossible to walk with them. – rexkogitans Mar 15 '18 at 10:59

Put on = place the article of clothing on one's body

wear = have the article of clothing on one's body

He put on a hat.

He took the hat in his hand and placed the hat on his head.

He wore a hat.

There was a hat on his head. He had a hat on his head.

wear {something} to ... -- to be in an article of clothing for the occasion

He wore old trousers to the clean-up day at the school.


I _____ my new shoes [at the party].

In varying contexts, all 4 options nominated by the OP are very acceptable. There is no "bad" answer.

  1. I wore my new shoes TO the party.
  2. ... before leaving the house to go to the party, I put on my new shoes.
  3. My feet were sore because I was wearing my new shoes AT the party
  4. I was putting on my new shoes FOR the party when the front doorbell rang.
  • 2
    Why did you change ''at the party'' to ''to the party? what's difference? – hossein ahmadi Mar 14 '18 at 9:59
  • 5
    If you say "I wore my new shoes at the party", it could suggest that you changed your footwear when you arrived "at" the party. This is something that women will do when a new pair of shoes are tight or they don't want them to get dirty. – Mari-Lou A Mar 14 '18 at 10:02
  • 1
    @hosseinahmadi let's see what other users think. I'm curious to find out :) – Mari-Lou A Mar 14 '18 at 10:05
  • 1
    I agree with you,too. – hossein ahmadi Mar 14 '18 at 10:08
  • I agree with this answer, and I think the numbers serve to rank how likely one might be to hear this particular construction used. 1 and 2 both stand alone without additional context, although 2 is a more unusual event. 3 goes along with an explanation of something else that happened subsequent to the shoe-wearing, and 4 goes along with an explanation of something that happened simultaneously with the shoe-putting-on. The question title may be more fully addressed by Tᴚoɯɐuo's answer, though. – Darren Ringer Mar 14 '18 at 14:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.