Borne By, Borne On, and Borne With
The English word bear has so many definitions and uses that it could provide fodder for several posts. This article is about the use of the past participle borne followed by a preposition.
Here is the odd usage in my local newspaper that prompted this post:
there’s blame to be borne on everyone.
I looked on the Web to see if anyone else was using “borne on” in this way. I found these examples:
[Lack of fresh food] leads to lower lifespans in these areas, higher healthcare costs borne on everyone and general malaise.
And, we had people opting out of the system and waiting until they got sick to charge ER costs that were ultimately borne on everyone else.
If you have seen the documentary The Corporation, you will be familiar with the economics term externalities — which are the external costs of any enterprise which are borne on everyone else but the enterprise itself.
Today most people think that [the expense of] having children should be borne on everyone else.
Blame and expense are borne by people, not on them.
Here are examples of the correct use of borne followed by the prepositions with, on, and by:
His wife has borne with his faults for fifty years.
The returning war hero was borne on the shoulders of two burly police officers.
The price increase was borne by consumers.
Borne is more poetic than mere carried. Fitzgerald used the word in the closing line of The Great Gatsby:
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Borne often has the connotation that whatever is being carried–literally or figuratively– requires great effort:
Over the casket the great flag that had draped it [was] held widespread in the hands of the eight petty officers who had borne the heavy weight to its place.
She is a woman who has borne disappointment all her life.
Borne is used as a suffix to create words that have the sense of being carried or distributed:
Water-borne diseases are any illness caused by drinking water contaminated by human or animal faeces, which contain pathogenic microorganisms.
High in the sky, water in clouds can act as a temptress to lure airborne pollutants such as sulfur dioxide into reactive aqueous particulates.
The speaker who said, “There’s blame to be borne on everyone” was mixing up two ideas. Blame is placed on someone, but, once placed, blame is borne by the person blamed.
Browse all articles on the Vocabulary category or check the recommended content for you below:
Improve your English in 5 minutes a day! Subscribe to our Writing Tips and Exercises via Email
- You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed!
- Subscribers get access to our archives with 800+ interactive exercises!
- You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free!