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Bear vs. Bare—What’s the Difference?

Homophones sound the same but are spelled differently. People often confuse homophone pairs, and bare and bear are no exception. Which phrase is correct—bear with me or bare with me?

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The difference between bear and bare

Besides being the name of a big furry animal, bear functions as a verb. It means to tolerate, to carry something, or to endure.

The grizzly bear seemed friendly, but we wisely kept our distance.

She could hardly bear the thought of selling her beloved vintage car.

It is too cold to go outside with bear arms.

Bare functions as an adjective or a verb. As an adjective, it can mean minimal, naked, uncovered, or without supplies. The verb bare means to reveal or open something to view.

The cupboard was bare .

Darlene had no idea why she began to bare her heart to the stranger.

The backpack weighed thirty pounds, a heavy burden to bare .

How to remember the difference

To forbear means to be patient despite annoyance or provocation. Encapsulated in the word forbear is the verb bear. If you associate bear with the meaning and spelling of forbear, you will never confuse it with bare.

Commonly confused phrases with bear or bare

Here are some phrases that contain bear or bare. These phrases might have confused you before, but you should easily understand them now. For instance, is it bear with me or bare with me?

Bear with me means “be patient with me.”

My husband bears with me even when I am grumpy.

Bear in mind means “keep in mind.”

Bear in mind that the forecast calls for rain today.

Bear the cost (or expense) means “to pay for something.”

The company considered hiring additional staff, but it couldn’t bear the cost.

Bare minimum means “the least possible.”

Keep costs to a bare minimum.

Bear weight means “support.”

The builders designed the structure to bear weight.

Bear the pain means “endure the pain.”

Ask for an aspirin if you can’t bear the pain.

To bear fruit means “to have positive results.”

Studying really bears fruit on exam day.


Words dazzle and deceive because they are mimed by the face. But black words on a white page are the soul laid bare .
Guy de Maupassant

Do you think I am an automaton?—a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup?
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

I have decided to stick to love . . . Hate is too great a burden to bear .
Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

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