The Farlex Grammar Book > English Spelling and Pronunciation > Common Mistakes and Commonly Confused Words > bear vs. bare
bear vs. bare
What is the difference between bear and bare?
As an adjective, bare means “without covering or clothing; lacking content, furnishings, or equipment; or unadorned or unembellished.” As a verb, bare means “to uncover, expose, or reveal,” or, more simply, “to make bare.” For example:
- “In the early 20th century, women were not allowed to have bare legs when swimming in public.”
- “The animal bared its teeth to appear threatening.”
The homophone bear has a variety of different meanings as a verb, most usually “to carry, hold, or cause to move; to hold up, support, endure, or have tolerance for; to produce, yield, or give birth to; or to warrant, be worthy of, or be capable of,” as in:
- “We all have our own burdens to bear.”
- “It’s important to know which kinds of plants bear edible fruit in the wild.”
- “I don’t know that this bears any further scrutiny.”
(As a noun, of course, bear refers to the large omnivorous mammals with furry coats.)
The confusion for some writers comes when using certain idiomatic phrases and phrasal verbs that use the verb bear, such as:
- grin and bear it (“to endure or accept something unpleasant or difficult with good humor”)
- bear down (on someone or something) (“to physically press or weigh down on someone or something; to try to accomplish something with all one’s effort or energy; to advance upon or move toward something in a threatening or overbearing manner”)
- bear a resemblance to (“to slightly resemble someone or something”)
- bear in mind (“to keep a piece of information in one’s mind when doing something or making a decision”)
Perhaps the most commonly confused of these phrases is “bear arms,” which means “to carry weapons.” To “bare arms” is not correct, unless you are talking about arms that no longer have anything covering them.
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