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Which is Correct: We Are Open or We Are Opened?

It’s evening, and you’re walking down the street to your favorite ice cream shop. You’re hoping the shop is still open, and you’re trying to glimpse the sign in the front window. Should the sign say “We are open” or “We are opened?”

The correct phrase is “We are open.” It is used to show that an establishment is ready and available to do business. In this case, “open” is an adjective that describes the state of the business. “We are opened” is never proper grammar because it uses the verb form of “open.” The past tense “opened” should never be paired with the present plural “are.”

Let’s look at the meaning of and ways to use “We are open.” We’ll also explore how different parts of speech impact the meaning and usage. 

What Does “We Are Open” Mean?

“We are open” means a business or establishment is ready and available to offer its services to customers. If you see “We are open” written outside a business, you can go in and expect to receive the services you want. Here, “we” refers to the people who will provide the service.

For example, if you see “We are open” on the sign outside your favorite ice cream shop, it means the staff of the ice cream shop are ready to scoop your favorite flavors. So, you can head in and buy a delicious summer treat!

“Open” as an Adjective

“We are open” features the adjective form of the word “open.” Here, the adjective “open” is a predicative adjective. A predicative adjective comes after the verb “to be” or after a sensory verb such as “to seem,” “to taste (like),” or “to sound (like)” (source). 

When we use “open” as an adjective, we are describing something that is not closed: it is available, exposed, and accessible. The opposite of the adjective “open” is the adjective “closed.” 

In “We are open,” the predicate adjective means “available” or “ready.” It shows your reader or listener that you are ready to offer them a service; your services are available and prepared to share with the public.

Sometimes, we can use the adjective “open” to mean “unlocked but closed.” So, for example, if someone knocks at the door, you can reply, “It’s open!” This means the room is accessible if the person turns the doorknob and opens the door.

In other cases, we use the adjective “open” to describe a person. An open person is someone outgoing and friendly. They seem easy to understand, and you might trust them quickly.

“Open” as a Verb

The word “open” can also be a verb.

Check out the example here:

  • The doors will open at eight-thirty.

Here, the verb “open” describes the action of the doors: they will change from closed to open. At eight-thirty, people will be able to walk through the door. Before eight-thirty, the door will be closed, and people can’t enter. 

Here’s another example with the verb “open”; notice how the usage is a bit different:

  • Janet can open the door because she has the key.

Here, the verb “open” means “to cause to go from a state of being closed to a state of being open” (source). So, in this example, Janet is performing an action that changes the state of the door: Janet is the one who causes the door to go from “closed” to “open.”

We can use the verb “open” to describe starting an event, spreading something out, or sharing information or availability. For example, you can open a meeting, open a newspaper, or open the group to outsiders.

“Open” is a regular verb, which means you can build the past tense form of the verb (sometimes called “verb 2”) and the past participle (sometimes called “verb 3”) by simply adding “-ed” to the end of the word. So, the past tense form of “to open” (sometimes called “verb 2”)  is “opened.”

Is “We Are Opened” Correct?

Saying “We are opened” is not proper grammar because the past tense “opened” is never used with the present plural “are.”

As discussed above, you can use “opened” as an adjective; however, this rendering does not make sense with “are.” You may opt for the passive voice “We have been opened” to be grammatically correct, but the meaning becomes unclear and awkward.

Thus, it is best grammatically and by definition to say “We are open” instead of “We are opened.”

How Do You Use “We Are Open”?

There are several ways to use “We are open” in written and spoken contexts. The most popular place you’ll see “We are open” written is on a sign hanging outside a business. You can hear this sentence as the answer to a question about the availability of services or service times.

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If you take a look around the shops in your town – or even the storefronts you see in movies and TV series – you’ll probably find a sign that says, “We are open.” Since this is the most popular way to use “We are open,” it makes sense that you can find these signs everywhere! 

When Can You Use “We Are Open”?

You can use “We are open” when you want to show that your business or establishment is ready and available to offer some specific services. For instance, if you’re a restaurant owner, you can say, “We are open,” when the restaurant is ready to serve food to hungry customers.

Or, if you’re working in a shop with specific day hours, you can say, “We are open” during those particular hours. So, as long as you are working or your business is ready to serve customers, it’s a great time to use “We are open.” 

In What Context Can You Use “We Are Open”?

A couple of contexts are really popular for “We are open.” The first (and most popular) context where you’re likely to see “We are open” is on a sign hanging on the front door of a business.

Sometimes, the sign will have another phrase such as “Welcome” or “Come in” before it states, “We are open.” In any case, a sign that says, “We are open” tries to draw customers into the store, letting them know that services and products are available.

Another context where you can hear “We are open” is when someone asks, “Is this store open?” or “Is this business open?” If the place is open, the standard reply is, “Yes, we are open.” On the other hand, if the place isn’t open, you will likely hear, “No, sorry, we are closed.”

When Not to Use “We Are Open”

You should not use “We are open” when you want to use “open” as a verb in the present tense. For example, it’s wrong to say, “We are open the doors every day at seven o’clock.” Here, you have two unrelated verbs back-to-back in the sentence, which is not grammatically correct.

Instead, you should say, “We open the doors every day at seven o’clock.” This way, you have one subject and only one verb in the sentence. In this example, “open” is a verb, so you can’t use “are” in the sentence in addition to the simple form of the verb “open” in the present tense.

You might see the present continuous form (sometimes called the “present progressive form”) of the verb “to open,” though. So, for instance, you can say, “We are opening the windows now because the weather is lovely.” 

In this case, you are using the present continuous tense, so you need “are” as the helping verb. Here, the sentence’s main verb is “to open,” but because it is conjugated in the present continuous with the first person plural, it becomes “are opening.” 

Be careful not to add that extra “are” when using “open” as the main verb in the simple present tense. But always use “are” with the present continuous tense! And, of course, when “open” is a predicative adjective and not a verb, you need to include the verb “are.”

For more on using the proper verb for the correct sentence, check out our article “I Wonder or I Am Wondering: What’s the Difference?

What Can You Use Instead of “We Are Open”?

Some other ways to say “We are open” include, “We are ready for customers,” “We are open for business,” “Our business is open,” and “Our business is operational.” These options send the same message as “We are open.”

There are also some idiomatic ways to show that your business is ready to accept customers. For instance, you can say, “I’ve hung out my shingle.” This is a saying from 19th-century America when people would hang a shingle outside their home or business (source). 

Sometimes, they would write a short description of their services so that people passing by could see what they had to offer. Everyone from doctors to lawyers to handymen would hang shingles explaining what they could do. When the shingle was hanging, the service was available to the public.

So you can use “I’ve hung out my shingle” to mean “I’ve opened my business, and I’m ready to offer my services to the public.”

Using “We Are Open” in a Full Sentence

Actually, “We are open” is already a full sentence. It has a subject, a verb, and a predicative adjective. In this case, the subject is “we,” and the verb is “to be,” conjugated to fit the present tense for the first person plural.

In the complete sentence “We are open,” the word “open” is a predicative adjective. A predicative adjective comes directly after the verb “to be” or else after a sensory (sometimes called “non-action”) verb. 

So, you don’t need to add anything to use “We are open” in a complete sentence. However, you should ensure this sentence fits into the conversation or written context where you want to use it!

Regular Verbs

For regular verbs, you simply add the suffix “-ed” to the end of the simple form of the verb; some grammar books refer to the simple form as “verb 1.” So, you can build the verb 2 and verb 3 forms of regular verbs with the formula “verb 1 + -ed.”

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Regular verbs are verbs that follow the most popular conjugation formula for building the simple past (sometimes called “verb 2”) and the past participle (sometimes called “verb 3”) forms of the verb. With regular verbs, verb 2 and verb 3 are the same.

Let’s take a look at an example to see this construction in progress:

First, we’ll take the regular verb “to apprehend.” The simple form of the verb (also known as “verb 1”) is “apprehend.”

We know that “to apprehend” is a regular verb, so to find the simple past tense form of the verb (sometimes called “verb 2”), we just add the suffix “-ed.” That means that the verb 2 form is “apprehended.”

Finally, to find the past participle form of the verb (also known as “verb 3”), we follow the same procedure: we just add the suffix “-ed.” In this case, verb 3 is “apprehended,” just like verb 2.

These same rules apply to all regular verbs in the English language. Luckily, most verbs are regular verbs. However, some of the most frequently-used verbs in English are irregular.

In the case of irregular verbs, you have to memorize all of the verb 1, verb 2, and verb 3 forms. It is not an easy task, but for English language learners, it’s an essential step in mastering the language.

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For more information about using regular verbs in the past tense, check out our article “What Happen or What Happened: Understanding Grammar and Usage.” 

Final Thoughts

When you say, “We are open,” you’re using a complete sentence to describe a business or provider ready to offer products and/or services. It’s common to see this sentence inscribed on a sign hanging at the entrance of a business such as a restaurant, cafe, or shop.

In this case, the subject “we” refers to the person or people who will provide the service. It’s a quick and easy way to communicate to your customers that you’re ready to offer services, sell products, or do business with those passing by.