How to use -ware and -wear in English

Posted on September 6, 2016

By Emily Stallard, Owner and Trainer at Orchid English


Do you know to use the word endings “ware” and “wear”? Had you ever considered that they were different? Recently I saw a student’s written work and I realised that she didn’t use the word endings -ware and -ware correctly. She is a very high level and I wondered how many other people confuse these endings. In spoken English it doesn’t matter because they sound the same. This is how to use “ware” and “wear”:



If you’re talking about clothing, the spelling at the end of the word should be “wear“:

  • Formalwear
  • Menswear
  • Sportswear
  • Swimwear
  • Womenswear

Note that you cannot just say “wear” as an alternative noun for “clothing”. I have heard people learning English say “I like your wear” but this should be “I like your outfit” or “I like your suit” etc. If you want to use the word “wear” you could say “I like what you’re wearing”.


Material or Use

If you are talking about items made from a particular material or items for a particular use, the spelling at the end should be “ware“:

Items made from a particular material

  • Glassware
  • Lacquerware
  • Leatherware

Items for a particular use

  • Giftware
  • Kitchenware
  • Tableware


So now you know! It’s menswear not mensware and tableware not tablewear.

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