Grammar 7 min read

🧸 Bear With Me or Bare With Me? Avoid EmBARrassment now

Main Bear With me or Bare With me 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. Shakespeare was a big fan.
  • Bear and bare are homophones (two words that sound alike but mean different things).
  • Bear 🧸 is a noun that refers to an animal.
  • Bear can also be a verb. Literally, it means to carry a heavy burden. Figuratively, it means to endure or suffer through something.
  • Bare 🔞 is a verb that means to uncover to to reveal. It can be an adjective that refers to nudity, vulnerability, or minimalism.
  • 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.
Bear with me for just a second while I verify your credentials.
I know you’ve been waiting for hours, but please bare with us one more minute.
You didn’t really see a bear while hiking through the pass, did you? That would be more than I could bear!
Her grandfather built that house with his bare hands.
The freshly whitewashed walls looked completely bare without any paintings, photographs, or shelves.

It’s really hard for me to bare my soul like this, but I’ve loved you since the moment I first saw you.
.

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Two cartoon bears are pictured against a yellow background. The bear on the left is fully clothed. He looks shocked as he holds one paw over his mouth and points at the other bear. The other bear, on the right, is completely nude with a censor bar. He is pointing at the other bear. The text below them reads BEAR OR BARE?
Bear and bare are homophones. This means that they sound the same when you pronounce them but they have different functions and meanings.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to use each word properly. We’ll also give you the best tricks for what to do when you can’t remember which is correct. Finally, we’ll look at the origins of the phrase bare with me.

Is it Bare With or Bear With?

The correct phrase is bear with me. This is because the verb bear means to carry a heavy burden or endure something. For this reason, when you ask someone to bear with you, you’re asking them to bear the burden of interacting with you. In short, you’re asking someone to be patient with you. An example sentence is “bear with me while I try to remember where I put my keys.” Conversely, if the phrase were bare with me, it would be a strange way of asking someone to be nude with you!

You might use this phrase 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?

What’s the Difference Between Bear and Bare?

Bear and bare are homophones, or two words that have the same pronunciation but mean different things. On one hand, bear is a noun that refers to a large mammal. It can also be a verb meaning to carry, support, tolerate, suffer, or put up with something. On the other hand, bare can be an adjective meaning exposed, naked, or lacking in decoration. It can also be a verb meaning to uncover or expose something or someone.

Like to vs. too or its vs. it’s, bear vs. bare is easy to confuse because they sound similar.

The Best Ways to Remember the Difference

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.

A pink square character sits on a bench looking frustrated. He is holding a smart phone and reading a message. A call out of the text message shows that the text reads BEAR WITH ME.
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.

Here are the top 3 ways to remember that the correct phrase is bear with me:

  1. Picture a big bear being extraordinarily patient while waiting for spring (hibernation can be so boring).
  2. Think about 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!”
  3. Associate the BAR in bare with embarrassing. Asking someone to bare with you might be embarrassing.

What can I say Instead of Bear With me?

Here are alternatives to the phrase bear with me:

  • (Formal) Please be patient with me
  • (Formal) Thank you for being patient with me
  • (Formal) Please wait a moment
  • (Formal) Thank you for waiting
  • (Formal) I’ll be right with you
  • (Informal) Hold on
  • (Informal) Please stand by
  • (Informal) Thanks for putting up with me.

Where Does the Saying Bear With me Come From?

The saying bear with me most likely stems from what bear means. Literally, the verb to bear means to carry a heavy burden. Figuratively, it’s come to mean to endure or suffer through something. As a result, we probably get the phrase from sharing a burden or an unpleasant experience with someone. 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.”

A pink cartoon bear with his arms outstretched with the words BEAR WITH ME above his head.
You say “bear with me” if you’re asking someone to be extra patient with you.

Shakespeare also used forms of this phrase 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.

Other Idioms With Bear

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.
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.

Bare with me or Bare with me? First panel shows a young man holding two placards. First placard reads Bear with me with a check mark. Second placard reads Bare with me with a cross mark. Bear and bare are homophones. They sound the same when spoken, but they mean different things. Bear spelled with an e after bis a noun. It refers to a large mammal with thick fur and a short tail. When used as a verb, it means to endure or to suffer. Bare spelled with an a after b is an adjective. It means nude or exposed. When used as a verb, it means to uncover. Shakespear was one of the first writers to use the phrase
Bear With Me or Bare With Me Infographic

Bare vs. Bare Recap

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.

For example, 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.

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

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

The correct expression is actually bear with me. And no, it has nothing to do with big furry animals or nudity.

Ready to Avoid EmBARassment? Test Your Skills

Bear With Me or Bare With Me Question #1

Bear with me and Bare with me can be used interchangeably in a sentence.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is FALSE. Although bear and bare have the same pronunciation, they mean different things.

Bear With Me Question #2

Select the correct sentence.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. Bear with me is the correct way to ask someone to be patient with you.

Bear vs. Bare Question #3

A mnemonic device can help you remember the difference between bear and bare.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is TRUE. Imagine bear with me as a grizzly bear that's patiently waiting for spring.

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

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Krista Grace Morris

Krista heads up Marketing and Content Creation here at INK. From Linguistics and History to puns and memes, she's interested in the systems we create to share our ideas with each other.

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