Grammar 5 min read

You’re staring at your email, wondering whether you should be using bear with me or bare with me. We’ve been there!

In this post, we’ll discuss how to use the phrase properly, what to do when you can’t remember which is correct, and its origins.

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Main Takeaways:

  • The correct phrase is bear with me.
  • Bare with me is incorrect, but using the phrase is a common mistake.
  • Bear with me dates back to Elizabethan times, if not earlier, and Shakespeare was a big fan.
  • Bear and bare are homophones (two words that sound alike but mean different things).
  • You can use a mnemonic device to help remember the difference between bear and bare. Just remember that “bare” is embarrassing and something to be avoided.
You say
You say “bear with me” if you’re asking someone to be extra patient with you.

Is it “Bare With” or “Bear With Me”?

The correct phrase is bear with me, indicating you’re asking someone to be patient with you. You might use bear with me if you’re searching for paperwork or trying to explain a particularly complex concept.

Please bare with me while I finish up with another client.
We’re experiencing computer problems. Please bear with me as I locate your reservation.
You’ll have to bare with me as I find the right form.
Can you please bear with me while I make a few copies?
Bear and bare are homophones, or two words that have the same pronunciation but mean different things. Like too/two or hear/here, bear/bare are easy to confuse because they sound similar.
Bear and bare are homophones. Meaning, they sound the same when you pronounce them but they have different functions and meanings.

What’s the Difference Between Bear and Bare?

Bare can be an adjective meaning exposed, naked, or lacking in decoration or a verb meaning to uncover or expose something or someone. Bear is a noun that refers to a large mammal that might be found stealing picnic baskets or eating a jar of honey. It can also be a verb meaning to carry, support, tolerate, suffer, or put up with something.

In short, you will rarely ever use bare with me. When in doubt, go with bear and rest easy knowing your grammar skills are the bee’s knees.

How to Remember Bear With Me vs. Bare With Me

If you need help to remember the difference between the two, consider using a mnemonic device. Mnemonics are little tricks that help us connect information using tools like imagery, music, and abbreviations.

For example, you might imagine bear with me as a big bear being extraordinarily patient while waiting for spring (hibernation can be so boring).

Or perhaps you can remember the correct usage by thinking about how patient you’d have to be to play cards with a bear. He’d say, Bear with me as I try to shuffle this deck without thumbs!”

Bare with me might call to mind a bad dream where you get up in front of your class to give a speech and realize you’re naked. Clearly, this usage of bare with me is a nightmare, and therefore not the one you want to use!

There are other ways to use bear in a non-animal-related sentence.

When you’re planning your route to the airport, bear in mind that there’s a lot of traffic at that time of day.
Thank you for bearing with me while I figured out how to hook up the new cable box.
Even though it was her son who asked for a puppy, Mary had to bear the burden of daily walks and regular vet visits.
I couldn’t bear to watch as my favorite team squandered their 10-run lead.
My mother’s lectures are annoying, but I love her so much I’ve learned to just grin and bear it.

A mnemonic would work with all of these examples, too. “Grin and bear it” would be easy to remember if you thought about a polar bear wearing a big cheesy smile. Unsure whether it’s bear in mind or bare in mind? Just think of a grizzly doing the Macarena inside your head.

If you're meeting someone and you're running late, make sure to send a message and ask the person you're meeting with to bear with you.
If you’re meeting someone and you’re running late, make sure to send a message and ask the person you’re meeting with to bear with you.

There are a few frustrating things about the English languagesilent letters and contronyms, anyone? But there are some wonderfully fun aspects to it, too.

Some idioms conjure up hilarious images. If you’ve ever stumbled across the phrase bare with me and wondered whether you should embrace a clothing-free future, you’re not alone.

The correct expression is actually bear with me. And no, it has nothing to do with big furry animals. Check out the history behind this popular saying, as well as some examples.

Origin of the Phrase “Bear With Me”

We can’t be sure who first used this “beary” tricky phrase. However, we do know it dates back to at least around the year 1600. That’s when Shakespeare wrote Julius Caesar and included this passage:

“Bear with me; My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar”

Shakespeare also used forms of bear with me as dialogue in other works, including King Lear, As You Like It, and Richard III. This suggests that the phrase didn’t originate with Shakespeare but was rather a normal part of the everyday conversation at the time.

Read More: Which vs. That: How to Choose the Correct Determiner

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