Know your words

Bear / Bare

Certain sets of words in the English language tend to confuse writers. I have found the following to be among them:


These two words look similar and sound the same, so perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising to see the word bare used to mean bear in written works. Furthermore, these words also share exactly the same letters, so “dyslexic fingers” (as I sometimes refer to my own) may be responsible for such mistakes. Just one more thing to be on the watch for when you’re copy editing!

Since we were young children, we have all been familiar with the word bear used as a noun to mean a large, hairy animal you might come across in the woods, but the verb bear is far more complex — though less dangerous, thank goodness! It can mean carry or support, give birth, produce fruit, or apply or pertain to, among other definitions. I have seen it misused in the carry or support category.

The word bare, on the other hand, when used as a verb, means uncover. So to bear arms means to carry weapons, but to bare arms means to uncover arms.

INCORRECT: I can no longer bare the pain.

CORRECT: I can no longer bear the pain.

INCORRECT: He removed his shirt in order to bear his arms, revealing strong muscles.

CORRECT: He removed his shirt in order to bare his arms, revealing strong muscles.  

ALSO CORRECT: Please bear with me while I bare my wound.

© 2017 Ann Henry, all rights reserved.

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