bare and bear - the difference

Bare means exposed (e.g., without clothes). For everything else, use bear.

There is often confusion over the words bear and bare.


The word bear has many meanings:

To carry (in many senses of the word).

We come bearing gifts for your chief.
Our camels do not mate regularly, but we are expecting Tsu Tsu to bear her first baby next season.
This small tree bears hundreds of apples every year.
Who will bear the responsibility for this vandalism?
My auntie is the tall lady bearing the green hat.
(Bear means to wear as opposed to carry in this example.)
He bears himself with utmost dignity.

Bear also mean to carry in an even looser sense (i.e., to have)

You bear a resemblance to your mother.
Does this document bear your signature?
I bear bad news, I'm afraid.  
To endure or to tolerate.

Mrs Taylor cannot bear the constant drone of the generator.
I have learnt to bear the cold.
It is very easy to endure the difficulties of one's enemies. It is the successes of one's friends that are hard to bear. (Oscar Wilde)
To maintain a direction.

Bear left at the next two Y junctions.
This track bears north for the next 10 miles and then bears east as far as the lake.
A large mammal.


The adjective bare means uncovered, naked or exposed (i.e., without cover, clothing or cladding).


Don't go out in bare feet. You'll catch a cold.

Was the protestor totally bare when he ran in the meeting room?

You need to cover those pipes. Bare pipes will freeze this winter.

Peter ploughed those fields with his bear hands?
(should be bare hands)
Select the correct version:



Writers are very familiar with bear meaning a large mammal (e.g., grizzly bear). However, the word bear is very versatile. It has many meanings. When they encounter these other meanings, some writers are attracted to bare because they know that bear denotes the large mammal.Well, unless you mean exposed or naked (i.e., bare), then bear is correct. For example:

This idea did not bear fruit.
This idea did not bare fruit.

The past tense of to bear is bore.

They bore gifts for the chief.
You bore a remarkable resemblance to your mother when you were younger.

The past passive participle of to bear is borne.

She has borne two children since moving to India.
The burden borne by the managerial team was simply too heavy.

However, when talking about birth, the alternative participle born is used (as an adjective or in a passive sentence.)

She was born in Manchester.
(born in a passive sentence)
The child was borne to a witch.
(should be born)
I was London-born.
(born as part of an adjective)

Tip: The word before born is often the verb to be (e.g., is, was, were, been).

See also:

What are adjectives?
What are verbs?
List of easily confused words

Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook Like Us on Facebook
Search Sign Up for Our Free Newsletter
by Craig Shrives Join Our Google+ Circle
Chat about grammar Ask a Grammar Question
Search Search This Site