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This is a question that people have seldom ever asked. In the English language, past participles are verbs that usually end with -ed. But bear seems to be an exception. It has bore and borne as past participles, but not beared. Why do they even exist? That doesn't make any sense.

Update: I'm not familiar with Germanic languages in general or inflectional morphology.

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  • I'm curious what your mother tongue is; most natural languages have at least a few irregularly inflected words, and learning irregular verbs and nouns is a common challenge when learning any new language, not just English. – choster Dec 28 '20 at 21:39
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To be clear, it is not standard to use "bore "as the past participle of bear. Bear has borne as a past participle, and possibly also born, if you consider the "be born" construction to function in present-day English as a passive form of "bear." (To me, the connection between "be born" and "bear" seems more a matter of history, not so much an active connection.)

Many past participles end in -en, -n or -ne. Past participles formed with a suffix containing /n/ are considered irregular today, but they come from the historical conjugation of "strong" verbs, which are a large and important category of Germanic verbs.

Most relevantly, the past participles of tear, wear, swear are torn, worn, sworn. Some other past participles not ending in -ed are done, gone, eaten, broken. There are many more examples. So "borne" is not very exceptional in not using -ed. The fact that it takes the spelling -ne rather than -n (if we leave out the "be born" construction) is more surprising.

All past participle forms, whether formed regularly with -ed or irregularly in some other way, can be ambiguous with adjectives. Many adjectives have the form of past participles: for example, frozen, excited, dejected, disappointed.

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“Bear” has two past participles, depending on the meaning you want. We use “borne” for most meanings, but “born” for passive constructions referring to birth:

borne:

"carried, sustained, endured," past tense and participle of bear (v.) in all senses not related to birth. Distinction between born and borne (q.v.) is 17c.

(Etymonline)

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    The quote reads as though "I have born my son" is correct. A little more detail is required here, I think. – Andrew Leach Feb 24 '20 at 22:22
  • @AndrewLeach - “born” for passive constructions referring to birth. Your example in not a passive construction. “My son was born.....” – user 66974 Feb 24 '20 at 22:23
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    I stand by my comment. More detail is required in the answer. – Andrew Leach Feb 24 '20 at 22:25
  • @AndrewLeach - sorry, more details about what? – user 66974 Feb 24 '20 at 22:26
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    "Thanks to the vagaries of English spelling, bear has two past participles: born and borne. Traditionally, born is used only in passive constructions referring to birth: I was born in Chicago. For all other uses, including active constructions referring to birth, borne is the standard form: She has borne both her children at home. I have borne his insolence with the patience of a saint." – herisson Feb 25 '20 at 1:40

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