Bear and bare are two commonly confused words in the English language. How do you know when to use each one?
Most people are familiar with the most common definition of bear, the brown furry animal that lives in the forest. However, bear can also be used as a verb. Both definitions are pronounced in the same way as bare, which also has multiple meanings.
It is important to learn the difference between bear and bare, because the words are used in completely different contexts. Moreover, if you use the wrong one, you might accidentally suggest that someone remove his or her clothes! That would be very embarrassing!
In order to understand the differences between bear and bare, let's look at some examples of each word.
When we use the word bear, we are normally referring to a furry animal. The most common varieties of this kind of bear are the following:
brown bears and black bears
and of course, teddy bears
This definition of bear is a noun. The expression "a bear hug" comes from this meaning of bear. A bear hug is a very tight hug between people who love each other a lot.
Bear can also be used as a verb. When used in this sense, the word means to carry or to hold something up. For example, bridges are capable of bearing a heavy load.
Bear also has a figurative definition, and means to stand, tolerate or put up with something. Usually when people use this meaning, they are speaking about dealing with something difficult or unpleasant, such as bad weather. Note that bear is an irregular verb. The forms are bear, bore, borne.
There are two adjectives related to bear. If something is bearable, it is tolerable or possible to deal with. The opposite of bearable is unbearable, which means that something is not tolerable or impossible to deal with.
The word bare is usually an adjective. It means that something is without clothes or uncovered. When people walk on the beach, they often like to go barefoot (i.e. without shoes).
Bare can also mean basic or empty. Rooms without furniture are bare, as are trees without leaves.
Another definition of bare is simple or straight forward. For example, people often speak about the bare essentials or the bare minimum, which are the basic things you need in order to do something.
Bare can also be used as a verb. When used in this sense, it means to remove or to uncover something. When people go to the doctor, they often have to bare part of their bodies so that the doctor can examine them.
To remember the difference between bear and bare, try using this: imagine a bear carrying a heavy box. The bear is bearing a load! Because it is difficult for him to bear what he is carrying, the situation of the bear is unbearable.
Teddy loves going barefoot. In fact, he can't bear to wear shoes! His favorite thing is to walk in the woods on a summer day and feel the grass on his bare feet, as well as the warm sunshine on his bare shoulders and bare arms. He also likes the spring, and autumn is just about bearable. Winter, however, is another story. Cold weather is unbearable, and Teddy doesn't like it when the trees are bare either. So he mostly goes on his walks in the summer.
Sometimes Teddy packs a picnic to take on his walks. As far as he is concerned, the bare minimum for a good picnic is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a box of juice. But usually Teddy brings much more than that.
Now and again, Teddy bumps into a friend while he is outside. He always gives his friends a big bear hug, and then he invites them to share his food. Luckily, Teddy has never seen a real bear in the forest – neither a black bear, a brown bear, or any other kind of bear. Teddy is happy about that, because if he did see one, the bear might want to have some of his food too. And Teddy couldn't bear that!
Answer the following 10 questions and then check your answers. Each question is worth 10 points.
Part 1: 1. A | 2. D | 3. B | 4. CPart 2: 1. B | 2. A | 3. C | 4. C | 5. A | 6. D