Monday Muddle: bear, bare

The word “bear” can mean several different things depending on context. Conversely, “bare” really only means that there is nothing extra added.

The expression “bear with me” is asking for patience. The expression “bare with me” is asking for a whole lot more, and I always suggest that you want to be careful about when you use that one.

bear: (n) a large animal; (v) to carry; to withstand; to support; to provide; to give birth Part of the expression "bear with me". bare: (adj) minimal; plain; uncovered; unclothed; (v) to uncover; to remove clothing NOT part of the expression "bear with me".

Monday Muddle: desert, dessert

There is an old expression: he got his just deserts. It is spelled with one S in the middle. However, if you are setting up a banquet hall, and you want a table reserved for just desserts, you would spell that with a double S in the middle. I always remember that dessert has two Ss because I will want two servings of it.

Just deserts—what you justly deserve, usually used in relation to punishment.
Just desserts—a selection of only sweet treats and nothing else.

If you want to talk about an unpopulated island where someone might be stranded—the setting of many hypothetical questions—you could call it a desert isle (as was the case with the uncharted one that Gilligan landed on), or a deserted isle. The first means dry and barren; the second means abandoned, so probably still pretty barren. If you saw the Monday Muddle on April 5, you will know that a deserted aisle is what you might find in a grocery store on a slow day. The dessert aisle is less likely to be deserted.

Monday Muddle: desert: (n) a result that is deserved; a dry, barren area; (adj) relating to that dry area; (v) to abandon dessert: (n) the sweet course of a meal, usually served last; (adj) relating to that sweet course

Monday Muddle: I’ll, ill

“I’ll” sounds like “aisle” and “isle” (see last week’s Monday Muddle), but it’s less likely to be mixed up with them unless you are using voice to text software of some sort. If you leave the apostrophe out, however, you will end up with “ill”, which is not generally something people want.

Monday Muddle: I’ll: (subject pronoun and verb) contraction of I will ill: (adj, adv, n) unwell, sick, badly, harm, misfortune

Monday Muddle: aisle, isle, aile

I regularly see “isle” when “aisle” is meant, but the funny thing about that (for me) is that aisles are more like the river that flows around the islands of shelves. So it’s all kinds of backwards.

An “aile” isn’t English, but it still gets thrown into the mix now and then.

Monday Muddle: aisle: (n) a passage between rows of seats or between shelves. isle: (n) island. aile: (n) French for wing.

Monday Muddle: you’re, your

If you say “you’re welcome”, you are usually acknowledging someone’s thanks. If you say “your welcome”, you are indicating that the welcome belongs to someone or was given by someone. For example: Your welcome of us was heartwarming.

Monday Muddle: you’re: (subject pronoun + verb) contraction of the words “you” and “are”. your: (possessive pronoun) indicates that you own something; it belongs to you.

Monday Muddle: woman, women

In honour of International Women’s Day, I thought it would be good to sort out the confusion between woman and women. If this little memory trick helps, please feel free to use it. The letter A is the first letter of the alphabet—letter number ONE. So if you are talking about only one woman, use an A. The letter E comes later in the alphabet, so more than one. E also looks like a backwards 3 which is also more than one. If you are talking about multiple women, use an E.

Monday Muddle: woman: (n) ONE singular female human women: (n) MORE THAN ONE female human

Monday Muddle: forth, fourth

In preparation for National Grammar Day, I thought it would be good to address the muddle of forth and fourth. March fourth was chosen as National Grammar Day because it is the only date that is also a complete sentence—if you make a minor adjustment to the spelling.

Monday Muddle: forth: (adv) forward or outward from a starting point fourth: (adj, n) ordinal number; number four in a series; 25% of the whole