Bear With Me or Bare With Me: What’s the Difference?

English homophones are one of the most confusing parts of the language. There are hundreds of them; they all sound the same; and their spellings generally aren’t that different either.

Such is the case with today’s words: bear vs. bare. Not only do these words by themselves confuse writers, but they are also found in many different English phrases, which further leaves writers unsure of which word to use.

In this post, I want to talk about the correct spelling and uses of the English phrase bear with me. I will discuss its meaning and show you example sentences.

Plus, at the end, I will give you a trick to remember the difference between the two.

Is it Bear With Me or Bare With Me?

So, how do you spell the popular phrase? Is it bear with me or bare with me?

The correct expression is bear with me. In order to fully understand why this is the case, we need to understand what each word individually means.

 

Check out the above video for a brief explanation.

When to Use Bear

dictionary definition of wordsWhat does bear mean? Bear functions as both a noun and a verb.

When functioning as a noun, bear indicates a large omnivorous animal. Clearly this isn’t the relevant meaning for the phrase at hand, so it must have something to do with the verb bear.

When functioning as a verb, bear means, among other things, to tolerate or be patient with. This is much more relevant to our phrase than a grizzly, growling mammal. Let’s explore this.

What Does Bear With Me Mean?

The phrase please bear with me is a request for forbearance or patience. If you ask someone to bear with you, you are asking him or her to hear you out, to be patient, to not jump ship quite yet.

  • Please bear with me while I explain what happened.

The reason there is so much confusion around this phrase is because people sometimes forget about the verb bear. They contrast bare vs. bear and think to themselves, “Surely this phrase isn’t about big, hairy mammals,” so they automatically pick the other word: bare. Here’s why that’s a mistake.

When to Use Bare

what is the meaning of forbearanceWhat does bare mean? Bare is an adjective and is defined as lacking the usual or appropriate covering or clothing; naked. For example,

  • He was bare from the waist up in the pool.
  • These walls are completely bare.
  • Do you usually leave your phone completely bare with no cover?

When you look at bare under this light, it doesn’t make much sense in the phrase.

While bear with me is a request for patience or tolerance, bare with me would be an invitation to undress, which is clearly not the intended meaning.

Trick to Remember the Difference

correct english phrasesOnce you understand the meaning of the phrase bear with me, remembering which version bear/bare is correct is quite simple.

Bear (B-E-A-R) with me is a request for forbearance. Forbearance is a noun meaning self-control, patience, tolerance. It also contains the word bear, which makes it easy to associate both words together.

If you can remember this simple trick, you will be set.

Summary

Is it bare with me or bear with me?

The correct expression is bear with me, a request for patience or tolerance. This relates to the verb bear, and shouldn’t be confused with the noun bear of the adjective bare.

To see explanations and examples of other commonly confused English words and phrases, check out Writing Explained’s confusing words section.