When trying to find anything, and asking for help to do it, do you use “Where Is” or “Where Are”? Do you know the difference between them and when to use each?
Let’s analyze both forms to find out which is correct and how to incorporate them into our conversations.
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As a matter of fact, both “Where Is” and “Where Are” are correct, but they’d be used for different purposes. “Where Is” should be used when you’re asking about a single item or person, while “Where Are” should be used when you’re asking about more than one thing.
Let’s take a look at some examples, before looking at each expression separately:
- Where is Nathan?
- Where are Nathan and Jules?
- Where is my coat?
- Where are my keys?
Both sets of sentences make the difference between “Where Is” and “Where Are” quite simple and easy to identify.
In the first set, we use “Where Is” to ask about Nathan (and Nathan alone). We, then, use “Where Are” to ask about Nathan and Jules (two people, which requires the plural form).
The same principle goes for the second set of sentences, where we ask about a coat (singular) and then, some keys (plural). Cost is a single item, therefore, “Where Is”. Keys are plural, and consequently, “Where Are”.
“Where Is” should be used whenever someone is trying to inquire about one single thing, or person, or item. “Is” can only be used when the singular form is needed, and should always be avoided in a situation where there are multiple items involved. It’s quite simple, actually.
Here are some examples of “Where Is” at work in a sentence:
- Where is my wallet?
- Where is that red lipstick I only wear on special occasions?
- Julia’s cat seems hungry. Where is its food?
- Where is Peter’s water bottle, the one he uses for sports practice?
- Where is the United States on the map?
“Where Is” is usually the introduction to a question about one specific item, person or place. It’s a very straightforward, direct form that we all have pretty much incorporated in our daily conversations already.
Just keep in mind that “Where Is” is only for singular items, never for multiples. For multiples, we use “Where Are”.
“Where Are” should be used whenever you need to ask about multiple items that are (or should be) together. “Are” indicates the search for more than one thing, and can only be used when the plural form is needed. Never use it when the search is for one single thing.
Let’s look at some examples of “Where Are” being used:
- Where are my shoes?
- Where are Paul’s reading glasses?
- Where are my children, Mark and Paula?
- Where are your thoughts? You seem distracted.
- Where are your mother and father?
“Where Are” always relates to the search of multiple items, regardless of them being numbers or not. It can also be used (as well as “Where Is”) for both figurative and literal conversations – like in the example where someone asks about the other’s thoughts.
Basically, when you need to ask about a singular item, use “Where Is”. When asking about a group of things, use “Where Are”.
In a situation like this, when two expressions relate to the singular and plural form of the same questions, would you think one is more used than the other? We decided to take a look at a graph from Google Ngram Viewer, to see.
Throughout time, “Where Is” and “Where Are” have followed the same trend, and seem to always be used in the same proportion. When one decreases in use, the other follows suit. When the other increases in use, the first follows it and increases too.
“Where Is” is slightly more used than “Where Are”, but the difference isn’t really that expressive.
“Where Is” and “Where Are” are both correct forms to inquire about the location of anything. “Where Is” is the singular form of the expression, while “Where Are” is the plural form. Therefore, you must use them accordingly, depending on the number of things you’re asking about.