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

Update 1: I'm not familiar with Germanic languages in general, past tense forms, irregular verbs, or inflectional morphology.

Update 2: Borne is the trickiest verb form I have heard from in the English language so far.

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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, 2020 at 21:39
  • See 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.
    – tchrist
    Jun 12, 2021 at 2:03

3 Answers 3

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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, 2020 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, 2020 at 22:23
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    I stand by my comment. More detail is required in the answer.
    – Andrew Leach
    Feb 24, 2020 at 22:25
  • @AndrewLeach - sorry, more details about what?
    – user 66974
    Feb 24, 2020 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, 2020 at 1:40
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The word bear started out as a perfectly normal strong class 4 verb in Old English. Because of this, it has a Germanic root which is the origin of the past forms bore, born, and borne. Bear is currently classified as an irregular verb because people normally do not add -ed to the end of the word when they use a specific past form.

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  • You might want to take a look at: lie, lay, lain AND lay, laid, laid.
    – Lambie
    Dec 17, 2023 at 20:35

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