Typos Hurt Your Writing: Bear, Dear, Fear, Gear, Hear, Lear, Near, Pear, Rear, Sear, Tear, Wear, and Year
Welcome to this edition of Words For Thought, the blog on wordrefiner.com. Like some of the previous blogs we are exploring typographical errors. Words that look almost the same, but have different spellings and meanings. To find more of these on Twitter search for the hashtag: #TyposHurtYourWriting.
I understand how important it is to have a manuscript free of spelling errors. With over 40 years of experience, I have found that typos give many writers problems. Less than perfect typing can create hidden errors. There are many groups of words that vary by only one letter, such as came, dame, fame and game. The correctly spelled word in the wrong context will not be flagged by most spell-checkers. The Hyper-Speller at Word Refiner is dedicated to exposing all of these hidden errors and providing your document free of spelling boo-boos that you want and deserve. I find these invisible spelling errors in 95% of published books.
Now, onto today’s episode!
We have a baker’s dozen of common words, 13 four-letter words that end in –ear. This logophile’s delight will provide some tasty treats for us. Make yourself comfortable.
Bear is a very busy and complex word. Used primarily as a verb, it has many shades of meaning: carry, support, endure, birth, and proceed in a certain direction. Secondarily, it functions as a noun: it can refer to a large carnivorous mammal, or a teddy bear; which is similar and quite different from the animal! It is a nickname for Russia, a phase of the stock market, and astronomers are familiar with the big bear and the little bear.
Dear is not another animal. But this word really works hard, wearing many different hats. First, as a noun it refers to someone who is beloved, it can also be used as an affectionate or comfortable reference to a friend. It is busy as an adjective: we have dear friends, it is part of a polite greeting or introduction, the formal start of a letter, something that exudes sweetness or is captivating can be called dear, like a dear kitten! It can also refer to something that is very expensive. It can also serve as an adverb or part of an exclamation: “Oh dear, I spilled my coffee!”
Fear, as a noun, is an unpleasant emotion. It can serve as a warning that something is wrong or dangerous. In extreme situations it can cause the amygdala to release hormones that cascade over certain parts of the brain, short-circuiting higher mental functions and preparing the body for fight or flight. It can refer to anxiety, a lower level of the same emotion. It is not all bad, holy awe is a mixture of love and fear of God. Fear also serves as a verb: to be afraid of something dangerous or painful, feel anxiety or apprehension, avoid doing something, apologize for something or express regret.
Gear is a toothed wheel that changes mechanical power when it operates. Got that technical definition out of the way. As a noun it can also refer to equipment or clothing designed for a specific purpose. Sailors recognize the word refers to the rigging of a ship.
Hear is a verb. It means to perceive with the ear a sound of some nature. There are many variations on that basic definition, you can be told or informed of something, you must pay attention, the committee will hear your complaint, a judge and jury will hear your case.
Lear is the central figure in a play by William Shakespeare, “King Lear”. Though a figure of legend in Great Britain, he might be real because he was mentioned by an ancient historian Geoffrey of Monmouth.
Near is one of those words that work behind the scenes. It serves as an adverb, adjective, preposition, and a verb. We use it to describe relationships of time and distance, something close to perfection or similar to something else.
Pear is quite the opposite of the previous word. This word has the narrowest of definitions. It refers to a specific type of tree that bears fruit of the same name. There is a lot of variety of pears, I love to eat a juicy, ripe pear.
Rear is another of those dual function words. It works as a noun and a verb, therefore context can be critical for understanding at times. We talk about the back part of something with this word, the back of a building or a line. We can also refer to the south end of a north bound dog. As a verb there are two main definitions, we rear or raise children, farmers grow crops and animals. Secondarily, it means to raise upright such as a ladder or a horse on hind legs.
Sear is a pretty simple word. It means to burn or scorch with a sudden or intense heat. A cook might sear some food to lock in moisture. A fire will prevent plant growth for a period of time. Pain can be described as burning or searing. Emotions can become less sensitive to trauma because of repeated exposure.
Tear is another word with dual definitions and usage within each as a noun and verb. First it means to use force to dismantle something or make a hole. The noun form is that hole. We have imbued the word with slightly different connotations also, people talk about the person who wins almost every contest as being on a tear. The second meaning is very limited but none the less important. When we are full of emotion or pain our eyes might secrete a salty fluid: the tears will flow when we cry; or for the macho guys, when your eyes get sweaty.
Wear mostly serves us as a verb, an action word. First and foremost, we put things on our body for decoration and protection. We might wear a smile on our face all the time to hide emotions. In the maritime industry, a ship will wear or fly a flag. Second, we have the concept of erosion or degrading over time. A timing belt should be replaced before it wears out and breaks. Not always a negative thing, thirdly, we can talk about how well the paint is wearing on the house. Of course, the noun forms refer to the things we put on or the damage of the thing.
Year is the length of time required for a planet to complete one revolution around a sun. Our solar year is comprised of just over 365 days. For business purposes, much of the world uses a 12 month calendar as a year, but other calendars do exist. A group of students in a multi-year program, who started at the same time, can be described as being first year, second year or more.
There they are, thirteen words with similar sounds and the same last three letters. If you use the wrong word, the reader could feel like they tripped on a root and might fall down, as they read your book. They may feel like leaving your story, because it is too hard to figure out what you are saying. Do everything in your power to prevent that from happening, do not give your reader a reason to close your book. Use Word Refiner, beta readers, critique partners, proofreaders and editors to ensure that your work is error free and as smooth as possible.
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed this issue of Typos Hurt Your Writing on Words For Thought. Follow me on twitter: @wordrefiner; for more Hazardous Homophones and Terrible Typos search for #HomophonesHurtYourWriting and #TyposHurtYourWriting on twitter.
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Remember: Words Have Meaning and Spelling Makes a Difference.
Copyright © 2016 Mark L Schultz
An avid reader and hyper speller. I am a husband, father, and grandfather.
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