In this edition of Grammar Corner, we discuss some of the most widely used grammar errors in the English language. We don’t just correct you, though; we pinpoint exactly why a particular word/phrase/idiom is used incorrectly, while providing the context for each mistake, and then providing the right word/phrase/idiom.
Most of the time, a grammar error occurs because of homophones. Homophones are two words that sound exactly the same, but mean vastly different things. But it’s not just their meaning that’s different; homophones can also function as vastly different parts of speech.
In this edition, we discuss a common grammar error: bare with me vs. bear with me. Despite sounding exactly the same, bare and bear are two very different words that mean two very different things.
Is it Bear With Me or Bare With Me?
Let’s get one thing straight: the correct phrase is BEAR with me, not BARE. Yes, using BARE makes more sense because the word ‘bear’ often brings up images of a giant, furry animal with large claws and teeth. Of course, the word bear has other connotations, but perhaps this is where the confusion stems from.
When to Use Bear With Me
The phrase ‘bear with me’ means asking someone to be patient while you finish doing something or explaining a concept. It’s a polite way of asking someone to just sit there a little while longer, no matter how meandering your explanation is.
As mentioned, bear has multiple meanings and can function as both a noun and a verb. When it’s used as a noun, it refers to a large, woodland animal that kind of looks cute but is very much deadly. With this in mind, it obviously doesn’t make sense to use it in this context with the phrase.
When used as a verb, however, bear takes on an entirely different meaning: it instead means to tolerate or to be patient, which makes so much more sense than asking someone to give you an angry and, probably confused, grizzly bear.
Here are some examples of the phrase “bear with me”:
I know I’ve taken up 6 hours of your time, but please, bear with me while I try to jerry-rig your dialysis machine, Mrs. Netty.
Bear with me, I have a head cold so it’s hard for me to concentrate on your surgery.
Listen, I know you told me to finish all my work by 5pm, Timothy, but bear with me as I finish watching my FRIENDS marathon.
When to Use Bare With Me
Short answer: never. Bare with me is completely wrong and shouldn’t be used when you mean to say BEAR with me.
The word bare is an adjective and it means something that lacks its usual covering or a general sense of lack in general. For example:
Barenaked Ladies is probably my favorite 90’s band of all time.
I can’t believe how bare your refrigerator got after the funeral.
Wait, why are you just sitting in the middle of the woods bare naked?
Which One to Use: Bear With Me or Bare With Me?
Always remember, it might sound weird, but the correct phrase is BEAR with me. If you say “bare with me”, you’re basically asking someone to make naked something or another, which might be awkward depending on the context.
Saying ‘bear with me’ is an appropriate request from someone whose time you might be taking up, thus it is polite to say. Never use bare with me as it is not only wrong, but also inappropriate.