Difference between Afford / Bear / Endure / Sustain

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The verb afford is used to express that someone has enough money to buy something. It’s preceded by can or could:

  • I can’t afford a new car. (I don’t have enough money to buy and maintain a new car.)
  • Since I got a pay rise, we can afford to pay a nanny. (We have enough money to pay a nanny.)

The expression bear the cost/expense (formal) can also be used when talking about paying for something:

  • The sender bears the cost of the delivery. (The sender will pay for the delivery.)
  • Companies must bear the cost of health insurance for their employees.

Apart from the above example, the verb bear is not used in the context of money. Most commonly it’s used to mean tolerate/ suffer patiently:

  • Can you bear with me for a few more minutes, please? (Please be patient and wait a few more minutes.)
  • Bear with me while I tell you what happened. (Wait patiently while I tell you what happened.)
  • I can’t bear to see her cry. (I can’t tolerate the sight of her crying.)

But it has many other meanings as well. For example:
SUPPORT/ SUSTAIN

Live Beyond Your Means 💰Idiom Meaning

Live Beyond Your Means 💰Idiom Me...
Live Beyond Your Means 💰Idiom Meaning
  • These walls are really old. I don’t think they can bear the weight of a new roof.

CARRY

  • Everyone has a cross to bear.

HAVE PARTICULAR QUALITIES

  • His latest book bears a strong resemblance to American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

GIVE BIRTH (old-fashioned)

  • Mary bore her husband two sons.

The verb endure is also used to mean suffer patiently, without yielding:

  • I will not endure his insults any longer.
  • Having to endure a trauma like that at such a young age must have had an impact on his character.
  • The death of her dog was more than Sazia could endure.

It also means to last (continue to exist):

  • Shakespeare’s sonnets endure through ages.
  • Our love will endure all the hardships.

Sustain has the following meanings:
KEEP IN EXISTENCE

  • Both spouses need to work hard to sustain a marriage.
  • Good teachers manage to sustain their students’ interest.

SUFFER DAMAGE

  • Many buildings sustained major damage in the storm.
  • The car burnt down, but the passengers sustained only minor injuries.

SUPPORT/ HOLD THE WEIGHT OF SOMETHING

  • The trees couldn’t sustain the weight of all the snow.
  • I don’t think that shelf can sustain the weight of all those books.

 
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