Can you bear to bare your mistakes?
Bear vs bare
The rule isn’t at all complicated, but we’ve seen “bare” and “bear” written incorrectly so many times that we had to find out why. After a bit of research and ridiculing (sorrrrry… we couldn’t help ourselves), we think we’ve figured out the answer:
We all know that a “bear” is a large mammal – and that makes us suspicious of using the same spelling for any other meanings.
The good news is that it’s really bloomin’ simple to remember when to use “bear” and when to use “bare”…
Here are some examples:
Bare – anything that relates to there not being much of something (think: exposed, uncovered, without)
Bear – everything else
E.g. vs i.e.
E.g. and i.e. are not the same. Most of the time, we find people using “i.e.” when they mean “e.g.”, and we – uncharitably – think this might have something to do with the fact that “i.e.” seems more intelligent and proper. After all, schoolkids use “e.g.”. Only adults doing important work know how to use “i.e.”. Unfortunately, they usually don’t.
Here’s what you need to know:
In case you’re interested, “i.e.” originates from the Latin “id est” (meaning: “that is to say”), while “e.g.” originates from the Latin “exampli gratia” (meaning: “for example”).
Here are some examples of how to use them both in sentences:
If you’re ever stuck, try replacing the abbreviations with their real meanings and see if the sentence still works.
Use vs utilise
“Utilise” is another of those words that people opt for because the shorter variant, “use”, seems a bit too… well, easy. Amateur. Unprofessional.
Unfortunately, “utilise” often comes across as try-hard and pretentious – especially when “use” would be perfectly adequate. What’s more, there is a subtle difference between the two words: “use” refers to employing something for a given purpose, whereas “utilise” traditionally meant “finding a new, profitable or practical use” for something. For example:
BUT (big but!) no one really pays attention to this subtle difference anymore, and most style guides simply that agree that “utilise” is a pompous, unnecessary way to say “use”. In Eric Partridge’s book, Usage and Abusage, he says: “[utilise] is, 99 times out of 100, much inferior to use; the other one time it is merely inferior”.
Want advice on other common writing errors?
Let us know what other words/phrases confuse you, and we’ll include them in another post soon!