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Bearing vs. Baring vs. Barring (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use bearing vs. baring vs. barring on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

This week we'll be baring it all when it comes to when writers should use bearing, baring, or barring. Mostly, we'll be looking at their differences and bearing as verbs. However, nothing is barring us from discussing when one word is used as a noun or the other as a preposition. 

(Grammar rules for writers.)

So let's bear down on the differences of bearing, baring, and barring.

bearing_vs_baring_vs_barring_grammar_rules_robert_lee_brewer

Bearing vs. Baring vs. Barring

Bearing is the one word in this list that is commonly used as a noun as well as a verb. As a noun, "bearing" is traditionally used either to refer to how a person handles (or bears) oneself, or it can refer to a situational or horizontal direction (as in "I needed to get my bearings on the situation").

I mentioned above we'd mostly look at these words as verbs, as they are all present participle verbs. So it helps to break them down to their present tense verbs to see their differences. "Bearing" is the present participle of the verb "bear," which usually refers to supporting someone or something and/or giving birth. Of course, "giving birth" is sometimes given poetic license to mean any type of "creation." 

Baring is the present participle of the verb "bare," which commonly refers to uncovering someone or something. That "uncovered something" could be physical (like "a dog was baring its teeth at me") or metaphorical (like "she was baring her soul in front of the class"). Baring is only used as a verb.

(8 reasons why poetry is good for the soul.)

Barring, on the other hand, can be used as a preposition to mean something along the lines of excluding by exception (as in, "the game will be played as scheduled barring a severe thunderstorm in the area"). 

As a verb, "barring" is the present participle of the verb "bar," which can mean to fasten with a bar ("they were barring up the windows to prevent escape"), to prevent or forbid ("the teachers were barring the students from leaving class before the final bell"), to confine and shut in or keep out as if with bars ("we are barring zombies from entering the gymnasium"), and/or to mark with bars or stripes (I admit, a good example does not come to mind for this usage of the term).

Make sense?

Here are a few examples:

Correct: She felt like she was bearing the weight of the world.
Incorrect: She felt like she was baring the weight of the world.
Incorrect: She felt like she was barring the weight of the world.

Correct: More and more students began baring their legs as the temperature warmed up outside.
Incorrect: More and more students began bearing their legs as the temperature warmed up outside.
Incorrect: More and more students began barring their legs as the temperature warmed up outside.

Correct: Mom started barring Dad from talking about politics at dinner.
Incorrect: Mom started bearing Dad from talking about politics at dinner .
Incorrect: Mom started baring Dad from talking about politics at dinner.

As present participle verbs, remember that "bearing" means "to bear," "baring" means "to bare," and "barring" means "to bar." Barring these usages, remember that "bearing" can also be used as a noun and "barring" as a preposition.

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Grammar and Mechanics

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