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I've been seeing both of these constructions all around, and I'd like to know if there is any rule that controls the usage of this expression.

For what I've read, it seems to me that "Bear something in mind" is used when that something is short, or a single word, like "Bearing this in mind we have that..."

On the other hand, "Bear in mind something" seems to be used when that something in longer, or even just longer than a single word, like "Bearing in mind both of those previous things...".

Any confirmation on this? What would you use if you are referring to an annotation? (e.g. "Bearing [1] in mind..." or "Bearing in mind theorems [1] and [2]...").

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  • As you are already aware of.. both construction my be used, chose the one you forever.
    – user66974
    May 1 '14 at 5:32
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The natural phrase is "Bear X in mind", the other construction always a second choice.

The X is a direct object, and English prefers to put direct and indirect objects without prepositions before prepositional phrases: "Give John the book", but "Give the book to John".

On the other hand, we also do not like to put the parts of uncommon idioms too far apart.

This particular idiom tends to take phrases in 'that' or 'whether', which are hard to get out of cleanly. So we push those to the end, after the prepositional phrase that closes idioms of this form, to avoid confusion.

I would go with "Bear theorems [1] and [2] in mind" because it does not have this closing-a-phrase problem. But "Bear in mind that blah, blah blah."

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    Note that the last examples in the question use the present participle, which tends to licence a different word order with idioms like this than finite forms. “Bearing this in mind” is still fine, but I would prefer “Bearing in mind theorems [1] and [2]” to “Bearing theorems [1] and [2] in mind”—especially if the thing thus in mind borne is definite: “Bearing in mind the results from [1] and [2] …”. May 13 '14 at 19:27
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Heh, you used licence as a verb!
    – tchrist
    May 13 '14 at 20:25
  • @tchrist, I always do (variant BrE spelling). ;-) May 13 '14 at 20:35
  • @JanusBahsJacquet The noun is licence and the verb is license in British spelling. Honest. It’s like advice, device, practice, prophecy for the noun and advise, devise, practise, and prophesy for the verb. See here.
    – tchrist
    May 13 '14 at 20:42
  • @tchrist, ahem. The OED has both spellings for the verb (and for the noun, though only in the etymological comment). It’s older and less common, but both the OED and ODO mention it as a valid variant spelling in BrE. May 13 '14 at 20:46

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