‘Wear’ or ‘put on’? Should I wear these earrings? Or, should I just put on a hat? Many of my students get a little confused with the usage, and they say things like, “I wear my uniform when I wake up” when they’re talking about their daily routine. So wait you wear your uniform when you’re waking up? Actually? You go to sleep in your uniform? Look, ‘put on’ is the action, ‘put on’. You put on a shirt, and then after that, you are wearing it. Many cases put on and where can be interchangeable but the focus is slightly different so put on assumes that you are not wearing in the first place. For example, I put on earrings when I go out or you should put on sunglasses before you go tanning, even though you know I don’t. Put on your slippers before you enter the house or before you go inside the house. In winter, you should put on a jacket because it’s cold and I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but me coach Chris, I used to wear earrings normally but as I got older it became too much trouble to put them on. So I don’t.
‘Wear’ vs. ‘Put on’
What is the difference between ‘wear’ and ‘put on’?
In English, we either ‘wear‘ or ‘put on‘ a piece of clothing.
‘wear’ signifies a ‘state‘ of wearing something. As in the example sentence from the video lesson, the sentence “I wear my uniform when I wake up” means that you had already been dressed when you woke up: i.e. you slept with your uniform on.
To say that you went from not wearing to wearing, we use the verb ‘put on‘, not ‘wear’.
Thus, the sentence should be “I put on my uniform when I wake up.”
- It’s cold. You should put on a jacket.
- He always wears the same T-shirt.
- What should I wear to the party?
- I need to put on my contact lenses.
‘Know’ vs. ‘Learn’
It is not just with ‘wear’ and ‘put on’ where English has two different verbs to express ‘state’ of being and ‘action’ in place of one Japanese verb serving both functions.
“知る (to know, to learn)” in Japanese signifies both the state and the action: the state of knowing and the action of finding something out.
However, English verb ‘know’ is used only for the state of knowing and we use verbs like ‘learn‘ or ‘find out‘ when referring to the action of going from not knowing to knowing.
- I knew there was an accident.
- I learned [found out] there was an accident.
‘Have’ vs. ‘Get’
The verb ‘have’ is the second example. ‘have‘ signifies a state of having something in possession.
- I have a brother.
- I have a house.
To refer to an action of going from not having to having, we need to use verbs such as ‘get‘.
- I got two tickets to a concert.
- He got a gift from his parents.
*It’s worth noting that in English there are two types of verbs: the stative verb which expresses the state of being and the dynamic verb which refers to a particular action. Some examples of the frequently used stative verbs are: know, like, love, belong, have, believe and stand.
To wrap it up, I want to make one last remark about the superpower of the verb ‘wear’ and ‘put on’.
In Japanese, we use different verbs depending on what you are putting on (or wearing): 着る (clothes), はめる (rings), つける (ties), かける (glasses), かぶる (hats), 履く (shoes). However, in English you can use ‘wear’ and ‘put on’ for virtually everything including accessories and makeup. As a Japanese speaker, this might feel a bit strange but don’t we deserve to have it easy for once?
- wear/put on a jacket
- wear/put on perfume
- wear/put on a ring/earrings
- wear/put on glasses
- wear/put on a hat
- wear/put on shoes
- wear/put on makeup
- wear/put on a seatbelt
- wear/put on a gun
And guess what. You can use ‘wear’ and ‘put on’ for facial expressions too.
- She wore a serious face.
When you put on clothes and spent a day wearing it, you ‘take it off‘ at the end of the day so that you can put on a new set of clothing the next day.[日本語文へ]