Homophones: Is your bear bare?

Is the confusion of whether it’s bear or bare becoming too much to bear? Never fear; we’re here to help.

Homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings. Some of the homophones we’ve looked at recently are patients and patience, complement and compliment and stationery and stationary.

Bear and bare is another tricky pair of words that are often confused. In this post, we’ll explain the meaning of each and show you how to remember which is which.


Bare has the fewest meanings of the two words. As an adjective (describing word), it means to be naked, exposed, revealed, uncovered or without cover, adornment, disguise or embellishment. It can also mean basic, simple, without addition, empty, lacking or the minimum number or amount. As a verb (action word) it means to expose or to uncover.

Examples of correct use:

The room was completely bare

He had a bare chest

We stripped it down to the bare bones

Bare your soul

We have the bare minimum

Her hands and feet were bare

The past tense of ‘bare’ is ‘bared’ for example, “the dog bared his teeth”.


The most well-known use of bear refers to the large wild animal (or the stuffed cuddly toy version). However, the word bear has a number of other meanings.

As a verb it can mean to hold, support, endure, tolerate, have patience, give birth, exhibit, produce fruit or flowers, go in a certain direction, own the name or to accept.

Examples of correct use:

Bear with me a minute

Just grin and bear it

She was of child-bearing age

The apple tree didn’t bear any fruit this year

Now you will have to bear the consequences

Will the child bear his name?

The forest was full of wild bears

Follow the road as it bears to the right

The past tense of ‘bear’ is ‘bore’ for example, “she bore the pain”.

How to remember which is which

This is a tough one to remember as the word bear has so many different meanings. The easiest way to remember the differences is that bare has the fewest meanings. Only use bare if something is naked/uncovered or basic/minimal.

You can remember this by remembering the “A” sound in naked and basic and linking it to the “a” in bare as “a” is the second letter in all three words.

Use bear for all other meanings.

Never use ‘bear’ as an adjective; if you are describing something then you always use bare.

Is your bear bare?

Hopefully, we’ve made it a bit clearer whether to use bear or bare but bear with us as we give you a few final examples just in case:

It was too much to bear

Just bring the bare necessities

Do you really want to bear that burden?

He used bare wood for the shelves


At Make Your Copy Count, we love words and we’d love to hear which words are confusing you. If there’s a pair of homophones you’d like help with, then tweet us @MYCCUK or message us on Facebook.

We look forward to helping you Make Your Copy Count

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