tolerate and bear

  • Silver_Biscuit

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    In certain contexts, the difference is negligible. However, whilst they overlap in meaning, they do not match exactly. Bear has many more meanings than tolerate.
    Bear means to carry (he bore a heavy burden), so when someone is bearing pain, it means they are 'carrying' it without complaining; they are taking the pain, and not collapsing underneath it. We would not usually use bear of an irritation, or a tiresome person - only of pain or suffering.
    Tolerate means to not react to things you find irritating or painful. In my opinion, it is more likely to be used of more minor things - like an annoying co-worker or something. If you do not get angry at the co-worker, then you are tolerant. Tolerate can also mean something calmer, that you are hardly even angered/irritated/pained at all.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Welcome, maviakahn. :)

    These threads don't answer your exact question, but they may be helpful:We like to have a specific sentence as a starting point for our discussion. If you give us a sentence in which you think you could use both words, it may help us think of other differences in addition to those in Silver_Biscuit's informative answer.
     
    Last edited:

    jokaec

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Hong Kong
    Welcome, maviakahn. :)

    These threads don't answer your exact question, but they may be helpful:
    We like to have a specific sentence as a starting point for our discussion. If you give us a sentence in which you think you could use both words, it may help us think of other differences in addition to those in Silver_Biscuit's informative answer.
    I have an example here.
    As roommates, we need to "tolerate with" or "bear with" or "endure with" each other, because we need to share many things including bathroom, kitchen, living room and fridge and sometimes conflicts are unavoidable.

    Which ones are correct? If more than one, which is more common in colloquial AmE? Thank you.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    All of them are wrong because none of the verbs take a preposition.

    Without the preposition, all are wrong as they do not express your meaning:

    Tolerate suggests "being patient and understanding" with someone who appears difficult/annoying/irritating and whom you do not really like.
    Bear means "to tolerate with difficulty."
    Endure means "to tolerate over a [certain] period without complaint."

    "As roommates, we need to get along with each other."
     

    jokaec

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Hong Kong
    All of them are wrong because none of the verbs take a preposition.

    Without the preposition, all are wrong as they do not express your meaning:

    Tolerate suggests "being patient and understanding" with someone who appears difficult/annoying/irritating and whom you do not really like.
    Bear means "to tolerate with difficulty."
    Endure means "to tolerate over a [certain] period without complaint."

    "As roommates, we need to get along with each other."
    Thank you Paul.
    But in the following sentence, which one is most appropriate?
    As his roommate, I have "tolerated" or "born" or "endured" him for a long time, now I decided to move out of our apartment.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    As his roommate, I had tolerated him for a long time; now I decided to move out of our apartment.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "He bore his painful illness without complaining."
    "Everyday, people pestered him for his expert help but he bore their constant demands with good humour."
     

    Lun-14

    Banned
    Hindi
    "He bore his painful illness without complaining."
    "Everyday, people pestered him for his expert help but he bore their constant demands with good humour."
    I think "tolerate" is used for a person who's annoying, but his annoyance is not much (or absolutely no) harmful/painful (physically or mentally). But if his annoyance is very painful/harmful (physically or mentally), then we should "bear". Is that correct?

    That "him" is a very nice person indeed.;)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Yes. to tolerate is the weaker meaning. To tolerate something -> to put up with something (also, "without [too much] complaint.")
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top