to bear left v.s. to turn left

< Previous | Next >

EnglishBug

Senior Member
Chinese
I have been thinking about the difference between "to bear left" and "to turn left". I feel that "to bear left" means to change the direction gradually, while "to turn left" means to change the direction abruptly at a certain point. Am I right? Thanks.
 
  • berndf

    Moderator
    German (Germany)
    I agree with Lodzubelieveit. The difference is the turning angle, not the abruptness of the turn. If the angle is less that 90deg you "bear left", if it is about 90deg, you "turn left" and if it is more than 90deg you "turn sharp left".
     

    Fabulist

    Banned
    American English
    I'm not sure everyone makes the distinction. In giving directions, I might tell someone to "bear left at the next light" even if its a right-angle intersection. I would expect them to make a 90° turn, and not run off the road by turning only 45°! Likewise, if someone told me to "bear right at the next intersection" and that consisted of two streets crossing at right angles, I wouldn't continue straight through looking for an opportunity to make a turn of less than 90°.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with EnglishBug, Lodzu and berndf: "bear left" to me represents a gradual curve to the left.
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I have noticed that in the US, the term "bear left" is likely to get folks running to the right to escape the bear more than it is used in traffic directions :D In other words, there is a distinct BrE AmE usage difference.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    It may be different in different American regions. If someone told me to "bear right," I would be looking for a "Y" intersection or something akin to an exit from a highway. I would definitely NOT expect to turn right at a 90 degree intersection!
     

    gurseal

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    It may be different in different American regions. If someone told me to "bear right," I would be looking for a "Y" intersection or something akin to an exit from a highway. I would definitely NOT expect to turn right at a 90 degree intersection!
    I agree. With forks in the road or at five-points, I would use "bear," if the turn is considerably less than a right angle; but with 90-degree turns, I would say "turn" right or left.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Just to confirm that bear left makes sense to me especially when you are encountering a fork in the road. If it was a T-junction or a crossroads or even a roundabout, bear left if possible if there are filter lanes.

    My old satellite navigator (satnav, GPS device) used bear left regularly; my new one says keep left.
     

    fdk47

    Senior Member
    Tagalog
    Hi. Does "bear left" mean "make a slight left turn", of is there any difference in the degree of the turn/best used situations? Ex. "bear left" is best used for a fork in the road, and "slight left turn" for a Y-intersection, etc??

    Thank you!
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    In BE, I'd expect to see "bear left" used to describe a left-hand fork in the road, or a Y-shaped junction ahead. "Turn left" on the other hand suggests to me taking a road off to the left at a junction where the main direction carries on straight ahead or possibly a T-junction where the only options are turning left or right.
     
    Last edited:

    fdk47

    Senior Member
    Tagalog
    Thank you DonnyB. Do you mean "Turn left" as in 90-degrees turn, not "a slight left turn?"

    I probably should have asked the question with "left+right", now that I realize that it can mean different scenarios for BE and AE speakers (Driving on the left or right side of the road)... Does "bear left/right" mean "make a slight left/right turn"?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Yes, a "turn" is a more definite change of direction compared to simply "bear" left/right. It's difficult to be more exact, owing to the almost infinite number of possible road/junction layouts.
     

    JBAKER2009

    New Member
    English - United Kingdom - Liverpool
    I have lived in the UK all my life and in this country, to me, 'bear left', 'curve in the road', 'the road a head curves to the left/right', all mean one thing... The road simply curves and bends, and in most instances not needing the use of the car indicators to change direction. As a turn left/right would need.
     

    Andygc

    Senior Member
    British English
    But not to me. "Bear left" indicates a need to do something more than just follow a bend in the road. It means to take a road going to the left rather than to the right. That's also exactly what my satnav means when the spoken direction is "bear left in 200 yards" - it tells me I am approaching a fork in the road.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top