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"Bears" or "Bear"?

I bet you didn't know this, but there are several good reasons to use "bears" as the plural form of "bear."

The dictionary doesn't seem to favor one over the other -- it lists the plural form as either "bears" or "bear" without taking sides. But we should take a stand, and we should stand with "bears."

  • When you say "bears," it's easy to understand that you're talking about several individual animals, each of whom is a bear. But when you say "bear," we can't tell whether you're referring to the whole animal as it shuffles through the forest, or if you really meant to say something like bear meat. Think of how chefs talk about food: lion steaks and alligator burgers. Think about the hunter's vernacular: I hunt tiger. Poor bears!

  • Bears are not herd animals. Etymologically, some argue that the plural form of "bear" is analogous to the plurals of deer, sheep, and buffalo. Deer, sheep, and buffalo have the same word for both the singular and the plural, and they're herd animals. Bears are not herd animals. Saying "bear" suggests that you don't know anything about how the animal known as a bear actually lives.

Language is a powerful thing. So are bears. Let's make sure that we speak of them properly.


I didn't agree with "bears" until you mentioned they were not herd animals and buffalo, etc. are........

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