Bare or bear?

28 Oct

I think I’ve seen “just bare with us” while we fix this site, reprint our menus, etc., etc., one too many times – but of course it is a troublesome pair, and not really one you’d want to mix up!  If the company or person asking you to bare with them knew that they were asking you to get naked alongside them, would they be so keen to say it?

As well as being a large, dangerous mammal in its noun form, to bear means to carry, to convey, to support (a weight) and, in the form in which we are encountering it here, to bear means to manage to tolerate (with the negative: “I can’t bear that colour!”) and to bear with someone or something means to be patient or tolerant with. “Please bear with us while we fix this website; in the meantime, here’s a picture of a puppy to look at.”

To bare means, in the language of the dictionary, to uncover a part of the body and expose it to view. We’re bare when we’re unclothed, we might bare our legs in the summer, and we can bare our teeth, which means to show one’s teeth, typically when one is angry. Like when one reads “please bare with us”.

Well, actually, we all know by now that I try to bear with people who make these mistakes, understanding that not everyone’s good at English, or can write well, or spell, or has English as their first language. I don’t ever mean to mock. And I certainly won’t start taking my clothes off next time I read “please bare with us”. Not unless the person behind the sign does it first, of course!

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.


Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


Tags: , , ,

3 responses to “Bare or bear?

  1. Sarah

    October 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    It always makes me smile when people get this wrong at work in emails ‘Please bare with me’ 😉



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