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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
There are a few frustrating things about the English language—silent 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:
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.