'Were' and 'wore' sound the same to me.

Is it true at native english users' ears?

from dictionary: [wɔ:r] for wore and [wə́:r] for were

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    There’s a fairly universal answer to this particular question, but for similar questions you should specify the accent you’re interested in. For example, “marry”, “merry” and “Mary” are all pronounced the same in some US accents, but are all different in UK received pronunciation. – Mike Scott Feb 13 at 15:44
  • As a general rule, if the dictionary tells you two words have different pronunciations, then most native speakers can tell them apart. Although there may be some exceptions if you consider accents. – NotThatGuy Feb 14 at 1:45

No, they do not sound the same to native speakers. There's a striking difference between 'were' and 'wore'.

British English

Were: In British English, 'were' in its strong form (or slow speech) is pronounced with the open-mid central unrounded vowel /ɜː/. In its weak form, it's pronounced with a schwa /ə/.

Wore: It's pronounced with the open-mid back rounded vowel /ɔː/ (rhymes with war, sore, law).

Note that in Southern British English, they're pronounced without the /r/ sound because British English is non-rhotic.

American English

Were is pronounced with an r-coloured (rhotacised) vowel1: with /ɝ/ in its strong form and /ɚ/ in its weak form. (The rhotacised versions of central vowels are more common than others.)

Wore is pronounced with the open-mid back rounded vowel /ɔ/ followed by the consonant /ɹ/

Another important difference is that of vowel roundedness; the vowel in wore is rounded while that of were isn't.

  1. I've explained the vowel chart and the difference between /ɝ/ and /ɜ/ in the linked answer.
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    Perhaps worth noting that in some dialects like that of Liverpool (UK) were rhymes with wear and where. – mdewey Feb 13 at 11:27
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    @mdewe Although not with Tyne and Wear. (I know, we could do this all day with English pronunciation! ;) – Graham Feb 13 at 17:02
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    @NotThatGuy: In whose accent? Not the one I hear around me (in the western US), or many others. That's really the problem with this question. Not to detract from this answer, but it really depends on who's talking. – jamesqf Feb 14 at 2:47
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    @jamesqf I'm talking about the part where the answerer wrote "wore: ... rhymes with war", i.e. British English. Note that I said they "don't just rhyme", which implies someone else said they rhyme. I don't think it's possible for them to rhyme without also being homophones in any accent I can imagine. – NotThatGuy Feb 14 at 4:10
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    @jamesqf I was just talking about "wore" and "war". Other words may rhyme without being homophones. – NotThatGuy Feb 15 at 18:20

Yes, for native English speakers "were" and "wore" are easy to tell apart.


Yes, "were" and "wore" are pronounced differently.

List of Sentences Containing Words Which Rhyme With "Were"

  • burrs come from thorny plants.
  • A smaller percentage of wealthy Americans wear coats made from real animal FUR today than in the year 1927.
  • My dog purrs like a cat.
  • slurs are mean things to say to another person.
  • I am sure that I want to cancel the my airplane trip.
  • The whir of the fan lulled me to sleep.

List of words Rhyming with "wore"

  • In war, it is permissible to kill a solider who never wronged you, but killing a man for raping your daughter is murder.
  • pour
  • chore
  • boar
  • bore
  • core
  • door
  • drawer
  • floor
  • for
  • four
  • gore
  • more
  • oar
  • or
  • pour
  • roar
  • score
  • shore
  • snore
  • soar
  • sore
  • your
  • 1
    Thx. Samuel. the last 'your' is not pronounced as 'sore'. – Brandon Feb 14 at 4:49
  • @Brandon: 'Your' and 'sore' do rhyme in most accents (I rhyme them in colloquial speech). – Void Feb 14 at 8:44
  • [ jʊr or jə(r) ] for AM, [ jɔː(r) ] for BM – Brandon Feb 14 at 8:47
  • @Brandon: Those are what's called 'citation forms', meaning they are the ideal pronunciations. In real life, no one pronounces words the way dictionaries do. – Void Feb 14 at 9:36
  • "sure" doesn't rhyme with "were" as far as I've heard - "sure" rhymes with either "wore", or in other accents it doesn't rhyme with either of them but instead with "endure", "mature" etc. All the other examples are good. :) – Keiji Feb 14 at 15:05

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