Bear vs. Bare: What’s the Difference?

There are actually three different words here, as bear has two different senses.

Confusing these two words in your writing can cause you to look sloppy, so it’s important to keep track of what each word means and when it’s appropriate to use each one.

What is the Difference Between Bear and Bare?

In this post, I will compare bear vs. bare. I will go over their definitions and outline their functions in a sentence. Plus, at the end of the post, I will give you a trick to remember the difference.

After reading this post, you won’t ever again second guess yourself by saying, “Should I use bear or bare?”

When to Use Bear

What does bear mean? Bear can function as a noun and a verb, and it has different senses with each.

Bear as a noun. As a noun, a bear is a large, furry mammal. They growl and live in the woods. This word rarely gets confused or mistaken for bare.

  • The bear tried to eat the food from our camp.

Bear as a verb. The verbal form of bear is commonly confused with bare. As a verb, bear has many different meanings,

  • To carry on one’s person.
    • She bore the backpack on her bicycle.
    • You have the right to bear arms.
  • To hold up or support.
    • This bridge can bear over 50 tons.
  • To have a tolerance for; endure.
    • I can’t bear to be with him any longer.
  • To give birth.
    • She bore 3 children: two boys and one girl.
  • To yield fruit.
    • This apple tree bears fruit every fall.

The tenses of bear can be confusing since it is an irregular verb.

  • Bear (present tense)
  • Bore (past tense)
  • Borne (past participle)

The past tense of bear is bore (The tree bore fruit last year.). The past participle is borne (The tree has borne fruit in recent years.).

When to Use Bare

What does bare mean? Bare can function as an adjective or a verb.

Bare as an adjective. As an adjective, bare refers to the lacking of usual or appropriate covering or clothing. To be bare is to be naked.

  • Are you walking around with bare feet?

Bare as a verb. As a verb, bare is defined as to make bare, uncover, reveal, or expose.

  • He bared his chest to show the wound.
  • When frightened, the dog bares his teeth.

As you can imagine, mistaking bare for bear or vice versa could lead to some rather humorous sentences.

  • Don’t walk on this glass with your bear feet.
  • You don’t need any makeup; I prefer your bear face.

For confusion on the phrase bear with me, see our full page.

Outside Examples

  • The Associated Press could not independently verify the online claim, but it bore the design and logo of the group’s previous statements. –The New York Times
  • By choosing socks, the company was wading into a declining retail sector that had been diminished by the increasing popularity of casual dress, acceptance of bare legs and declining interest from consumers who wanted quality goods for low prices, according to an IBISWorld report on hosiery manufacturers. –Orange County Register
  • Costumed hustlers dressed as Hello Kitty and Minnie Mouse bared their claws while fighting over a tip Thursday — and ended up in cuffs. –New York Post

Remember the Difference

grin and bear it meaningHere is a fun trick to remember bare vs. bear. If you can remember this self checks, you should be all set.

Check one: To bear something is to carry it. A bear can bear a heavy load. If you can remember this mnemonic, you will be able to differentiate bare vs. bear.

Check two: Additionally, to bare something is to expose it. Both bare and expose end in the letter “e.”

Summary

Is it bare or bear? These words have very different meanings, so it’s important to use them correctly in our writing.

Bear is a noun and a verb. A bear is a large mammal; to bear is to carry.

Bare is an adjective and a verb and refers to being exposed.

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