Thursday, July 11, 2013

Get It Right: Bear, Bear, Bear, And Bare

In our ongoing mission to inform everyone of how to correctly use the English language, today we're looking at bear, bear, bear, and bare, and no, that's not a typo. Just like Goldilocks, we have three "bears" and then bare, just for good measure.

The reason we have three bears is because they are homonyms, words that are spelled the same but have different meanings. Two of the meanings are verbs and the other is a noun. However, all four of today's terms are homophones, words that are pronounced the same.

A grizzly bear enjoying a lovely mountain view.

As a noun, the word bear refers to the large mammal, often represented in popular culture as either a cute bear cub or a "teddy" bear, named after the American president who couldn't bring himself to shoot such an adorable creature.


The second variant of bear is a verb that refers to carrying, holding, or displaying something. The American flag bears fifty stars and thirteen stripes, while the Second Amendment to its accompanying Constitution permits citizens, when part of an organised militia, the right to bear arms.


The final of our three homonyms refers to tolerating, enduring, or generally putting up with something, as in: "I can't bear it any longer!" or "sometimes you just have to grin and bear it".


The final word in our list for today can be both a noun and a verb. The noun form refers to something that is uncovered or empty, such as bare arms or a bare cupboard. The verb refers to the uncovering of something, so you can technically both bear arms and bare arms, though we'd recommend that you do neither of these things.

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