It Bears Repeating: Is It Bears or Bares?

by Alice Sudlow | 28 comments

It bears repeating that the English language is full of odd sayings. What's the difference between bares vs bears? Never fear, we’re here to break them down. 

It Bears Repeating: Is It Bears or Bares?

Grammar Collectibles

Whether I'm proofreading short stories, full manuscripts, or a billboard on the highway, I've always been a grammar nerd. (I edit the billboards on the highway in my head. I'm fun on road trips.)

As a professional editor, I think finding and fixing grammar mistakes is as enjoyable as gathering hidden gems.

Today I'd like to explain a saying that most people have heard before, but don't always know how to use correctly.

No Bears Here

What do you think of when you hear the word “bear”? I’m guessing you imagine something like this:

While it's true that one definition of bear is a noun, and specifically a large furry animal (polar bears, black bears, brown bears, oh my!), there are no toothy mammals in “it bears repeating.” The word “bear” has a range of meanings beyond an actual bear.

In our idiom “it bears repeating,” it’s a verb: “to bear” means “to be worthy of.” “It bears repeating,” then, means “it’s worth repeating.”

Bear can also mean to carry or support, and also to endure. 

Remember, it’s “bear,” not “bare.”

Bares vs bears

We've talked about the different meanings of “bear,” but now let's turn to the word “bares.”

“To bare” as a verb form means “to uncover.” It can also be used as an adjective though to mean “exposed” or “without covering.” When you have bare arms, it means you don't have sleeves or a jacket covering them. If a room is bare, it doesn't have any expected furnishings.

It can also be used a bit more ominously when used with teeth, “The vampire bared his fangs before descending.” In this case, the word bared means he showed his teeth, they are uncovered (and likely ready to bite you!).

So when you're trying to decide whether to use bares vs bears, think about what you're trying to describe. If you're trying to show something is uncovered? You want bares

If you're needing a word to show an animal or to describe something being carried or endured? Then you want bears.

It Bears Repeating

So back to our idiom of the day: it bears repeating. What does this look like out in the wild? Let’s use it in a sentence:

“Wow, Sam did such a great job on his science project!” said Sam’s aunt.

“He did! But it bears repeating that he didn’t do it alone—Marianne and Jack were a huge help,” said his mom.

Sam’s aunt is excited about how well he did on his science project. His mom is, too. But she uses “it bears repeating” to remind his aunt of something she already knows: Sam had great people helping him.

It’s Worth Remembering

You probably don’t hear “it bears repeating” every day. It’s a bit of a formal turn of phrase, and “it’s worth repeating” works just as well.

You could even go more casual with “like I said,” or borderline rude with “I already told you.”

Still, it’s worth remembering the meaning (and spelling!) of the phrase. Perhaps this image of bears will help it stick in your mind:

Do you use “it bears repeating”? What other odd turns of phrase trip you up? Let us know in the comments.

Need more grammar help? My favorite tool that helps find grammar problems and even generates reports to help improve my writing is ProWritingAid. Works with Word, Scrivener, Google Docs, and web browsers. Also, be sure to use my coupon code to get 20 percent off: WritePractice20

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PRACTICE

Take fifteen minutes to write a scene using the phrase “it bears repeating” as many times as possible. Bonus points if your characters are bears!

When you’re done, share your writing in the Pro Practice Workshop. It bears repeating that the best way to grow as a writer is through giving and receiving feedback, so be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers!

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Alice Sudlow is the Editor-in-Chief of The Write Practice and a Story Grid certified developmental editor. Her specialty is in crafting transformative character arcs in young adult novels. She also has a keen eye for comma splices, misplaced hyphens, and well-turned sentences, and is known for her eagle-eyed copywriter skills. Get her free guide to how to edit your novel at alicesudlow.com.

28 Comments

  1. Rohan

    the right to bear arms is the same right?

    Reply
    • Robert Ranck

      the right to bear (as in “to carry” ) arms.

    • Robert Ranck

      “To bare” would be to carry OPENLY (not concealed)

    • Robert Ranck

      But even that would be, still, “to bear” arms . . . . . . .oh, it could go on

    • Alice Sudlow

      That’s right! In that sense, “to bear” means “to carry,” so if you want to carry arms, that invokes the right to bear arms.

      Then again, if you want to wear a shirt with no sleeves, then you’re well within your rights to bare arms . . . language is fun, isn’t it?

    • Alyssa

      My dad created a tanktop with the phrase “The right to bare arms” with guns on it for puns and a political statement.

  2. BobbiJo

    Once upon a time there was a family of four bears, a mama bear, a papa bear and two bear cubs. They were all strolling through the forest one day, the parents showing their babies how to hunt for food. All of a sudden a strange sound rang through the forest; scaring the babies and making them run out of the sight of mama and papa bears.

    It bears repeating that not only should children stay close to their parents when learning, not only for humans but for bears, too, because they can get in more trouble by themselves.

    Now separated from their parents, they did not know where they were or which direction they should go to reunite. They wandered aimlessly in the forest and ended up even deeper into the woods, far out of range from their parents’ calls.

    It bears repeating that the farther you are from someone, the less apt you are to find them.

    The mama and papa bears searched and searched to no avail. They called and called but their voices were not heard by their offsprings. They, too, did not know which way to go in their search for their beloved children.

    It bears repeating that the farther you are from someone, the less apt you are to find them.

    Fortunately this story does not end here. .. No, in fact, this is just the beginning of a new children’s book which will be out for publication whenever it is finished. It bears repeating that the more you write, the closer to the final book you will be and then you can publish!!!

    Reply
    • Alice Sudlow

      Those are great maxims for children to remember (and adults too!). You’ve left us on a cliffhanger here—best of luck as you finish the book!

    • Lynn Bowie

      wow good luck! I love bear stories, but I barely know any! LOL

  3. Elizabeth Westra

    In all the heat we’re having here in Michigan, it bears repeating that we bare arms to avoid overheating.

    Reply
    • Alice Sudlow

      Love it, Elizabeth! Fantastic rhyming as well!

    • Elizabeth Westra

      Thanks, Alice. I didn’t even notice the rhyme.

    • Leslie Hawthorne

      Cute

  4. Christine

    As I’m sure you all know, ladies and gentlemen, our next speaker, Todd Teddeous, is one of the mayoral candidates in our upcoming civic election. It bears repeating that Mr Teddeous has served one very successful term in office already and would be delighted to serve Findlater for a second term.

    Another thing that bears repeating that Todd is a successful businessman in our fair city and has shown a wonderful example of entrepreneurship in the business community. If elected, he hopes to lead Findlater into a new era of successful economic growth and we could mention that many of Todd’s fellow merchants are behind him as he seeks another term in office.

    As you listen tonight please bear in mind our “Zero Heckling” policy. There’s be plenty of time for questions and answers after Todd is done speaking, so if you have questions as he’s outlining his agenda please don’t get your snickers in a twist. You’ll have time to express your opinions and objections after he’s done.

    It bears repeating that anyone who doesn’t co-operate with our policy will be asked to leave — tossed out on their ear if necessary — but I trust we’re all adults here and will allow our speaker due respect and attention. And now, ladies and gentlemen, let’s welcome Mr Todd Teddeous!

    Reply
    • Lynn Bowie

      so cool. big smile on my face!

    • Christine

      Thank you.

  5. Sheila B

    It bears repeating that the burden and risk I bear in obtainting honey from the bee hive born by tree that I must climb in order to bear the delicious treat home to my bear family i’s worth it.

    Reply
    • Christine

      Now that’s a brain teaser!

  6. Joe Volkel

    I am glad that you clarified the correct use of ‘Bears and Bares’. I came within a Hare’s Breath of using the wrong one!

    Reply
  7. Cindy Rosebrook

    An IT staff person at my husband’s company once sent out an email about all of the changes they were making and asked the whole company to bare with them. One of my favorite mix-ups ever.

    Reply
    • Christine

      I’m sure the poor person was very red-faced when informed of the error. 🙂 and it would pop up as an office joke ever after, I’m sure.

  8. Dennis Fleming

    I can barely bear to say that “It bears repeating.” is overused. Were I writing I would say something like “It’s important enough to repeat.” It’s nine syllables versus five, but I’ll make the sacrifice to eliminate a cliche.

    Reply
    • Christine

      And I would say, “It’s worth mentioning (here) that…”

  9. TerriblyTerrific

    I always thought of the words, “Bare and Bear!” Thank you! Now, it is clear….

    Reply
  10. zbootvp

    so, I’m guessing when someone says “bear with me” it’s bear not bare?

    Reply
  11. Bill Switzer

    It bears repeating that our seasons greetings should come from the heart and be bearably fleeting. When asked to renounce a religious red-herring we should get our bearings and say “seasons greetings”

    Reply
  12. Jon Ryder

    i is not much ov one 4 gramer and dont know why come butt cinse u like hideing jemz, i thot yoo could injoy this cuz is shure seams their isnt many around any more who has the talint your good at: ceriusly | their far & Few betwean but these is skillz never have ben needid more then now, so keep do-ing good works an helps as many az you can be4 its to late?

    Reply
    • Mary C

      I loved reading books like this to my young students. And reading them myself!

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