Spelling 101: Bear with Me or Bare with Me?

The online world is full of spelling mistakes. Apart from errors in spacing and word usage, such as goodnight vs. good night, people misspell commonly used phrases.

One such case is “bear with me.” Oftentimes, individuals say or type in “bare with me” on an e-mail or text message. At first glance, the phrase sounds identical to “bear with me,” but in reality carries a different meaning.

Today, we’re going to differentiate bear with me and bare with me, learn why people are confused with these phrases and a few alternatives to bear with me if you don’t like to use this phrase.

First Things First: What Does “Bear with Me” Mean?

The phrase “bear with me” simply means to hang on for a moment or hold on a moment. When people hear the word “bear,” many immediately associate the term with a scary, grizzly animal rummaging the trash cans and walking around the woods. This is certainly how you would define “bear” in its noun form.

The meaning of the word, however, becomes different when it becomes a verb. Bear, as a verb, means to endure or to cope. The expression “bear with me” technically translates to endure this with me.

If “bear with me” is the correct phrase, what does “bare with me” mean?

Bare, in its verb form, means to uncover or reveal. When you say, “bare with me,” you’re basically asking someone to remove their clothing or get naked.  Certainly not something you want to convey to, for example, a coworker when you’re going over files.

If you’re writing certain genres of fiction (or perhaps something similar to “Fifty Shades of Grey”), you could use “bare with me” as a salacious title of a saucy mass-market paperback. Other than that, you should not use this phrase in everyday conversations.

Remembering the Spelling of “Bear with Me”

Still getting the two words mixed up?

Don’t worry. Here is a simple method to help you distinguish bear from bare.

Think of bear with me as a request for forbearance. The word “forbearance” means tolerance, patience and self-control. It also contains the word “bear,” which makes associating both words together easy for you. If you could remember this simple trick, you should be able to remember the difference.

Here’s another way to help you correctly spell the words “bear with me.” Recall the verb and noun form of bear. Bear, in verb form, means to endure. Bear, as a noun, is a big, furry creature.

Then, combine these two definitions into a silly statement to help you recall the correct phrase. Take this sentence as an example: An impatient bear may attack and devour you, but a patient bear will always bear with you.

Why People Confuse Bear with Me and Bare with Me

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The words bear and bare are homophone pairs. These are words that you pronounce the same way but have different spellings and meanings. Note: homophones are different from homonyms. The latter refers to words that spell and sound the same but have varying meanings.

Some people may have heard the phrase “bear with me” so many times in casual conversations and small talk, but they don’t often see these words written down somewhere. As a result, they may use “bare with me” unconsciously.

Others see “bare with me” written incorrectly on the web so many times that they wrongly assume that it’s the correct phrase. You may even come across this erroneous term from websites and publications that readers and users would have expected to get things right.

If you feel concerned about getting homophones and homonyms wrong, check this handy list as a refresher.

Alternatives to the Phrase “Bear with Me”

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Sometimes, an effective solution to a confusing phrase is to select a different one. If you are looking for an alternative to “bear with me” (and widen your vocabulary in the process), here are a few substitute phrases that you could use to mean the same thing:

Stay with Me

Instead of staying, “Bear with me while I go over the details,” you could say, “Stay with me while I go over the details.”

Give Me a Moment

You could change bear with me to give me a moment when it makes sense. If the sentence says, “Please bear with me while I prepare the room for the next career counseling session,” you could instead say, “Give me a moment to get the room ready for the next career counseling session.”

Thanks for Your Patience

As mentioned earlier, “bear with me” is a request for forbearance. You could use “thanks for your patience” as a substitute. Here’s an example: The statement “Bear with us while we restore the system to normal” could become “Thanks for your patience while we restore the system to normal.”

Note: If you’re going to use one of these substitute phrases, make sure that you proofread and see if the statement makes sense before using it.

The next time you feel tempted to use “bare with me” in a formal context, imagine how people would react if you requested them to take off their clothes. This should be enough to discourage you from using the wrong phrase in formal writing and begin using “bear with me.”

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