Base or Bass – How to Use Each Correctly
What’s the Difference Between Base and Bass?
Depending on the context, base and bass can be homophones, which means they sound exactly the same but have different spellings and pronunciations. Each word has more than one meaning, and one of the meanings of bass has a different pronunciation.
The primary definition of base as a noun means the bottom area of a thing which supports the upper area. It can also act as an adjective or verb with different meanings.
- The climbers met at the base of the mountain.
The main definition of bass as an adjective refers to the lowest pitch. It can also as a noun that means a type of instrument or a type of fish.
- My father has a bass voice, because his voice is so deep.
Now, let’s go over a few ways to use these words in English.
Using Base in a Sentence
When to use base: Base is a noun that rhymes with face. It means the foundation of something. This can be the physical bottom of a structure or the fundamental principle of a concept.
It can also refer to the four places baseball players run to or the bottom layer of something such as paint. It can also be a verb that means to found an opinion on.
- Find the length of the base of the triangle.
- You should read Plato’s work to understand the base of philosophy.
- I’m going to apply a base layer of nail polish, and then a secondary layer for extra color.
- He based his judgment on what the lawyers said.
There are a couple idioms that use base:
- to be off base: to be wrong
- You thought I was a professional football player? You’re way off base! I’ve never played any sports.
- to touch base: to make contact with someone
- Let’s touch base with the boss about this issue.
- to steal a base: when a baseball player runs from one base to another even though the hitter hasn’t yet hit the ball
- It is always exciting to see the athletes steal a base.
The word basis is more common than base for the founding principles of a concept.
Using Bass in a Sentence
When to use bass: Bass can be an adjective or a noun.
As an adjective, it means low pitched.
As a noun, it can refer to an instrument that looks somewhat like a guitar. For both of the previous meanings, the pronunciation rhymes with the word face.
It can also mean a type of fish. For this meaning, the pronunciation rhymes with class.
- I wanted to catch some trout but instead I caught only bass. (fish meaning)
- Kim Deal was the original bass player for the Pixies. (instrument meaning)
- He sings bass in the choir. (low pitch meaning)
When speaking of the fish, the plural form is usually bass, unless there is more than one species of bass, in which case it becomes basses.
Remembering Base vs. Bass
There is a helpful mnemonic device that uses the spelling of base and bass to help you remember which word to use and when.
Bass has a double s. A base voice is a deep voice, and deep also has a pair of double letters.
Although deep has two e’s and bass has two s’s, the fact that they each have repeating letters can help you remember that the word synonymous with deep is spelled with a pair of s’s.
- President Nicolas Maduro vowed that a band of anti-government fighters who attacked a Venezuelan army base will get the “maximum penalty” as his administration roots out his enemies. –Chicago Tribune
- Nicky Delmonico became the first Sox player to reach base safely in the first 11 games of his career with a second-inning single. It was another nice moment for a career that’s off to a surprising start. –Chicago Sun Times
- An introduction to this new Band Perry was the primary mission of the show Wednesday night, Aug. 2, at the Pacific Ampitheatre, with the group adding thumping bass, 808s and other pop flourishes to hits such as “Better Dig Two” and “Chainsaw.” –OC Register
- In the first half of Gaga’s Vancouver show, drums, guitar and bass were drowning out the pop star’s vocals. Fortunately, the sound was fixed in time to hear her impressive high note on The Edge of Glory. –USA Today
Quiz: Bass vs. Base
Instructions: Fill in the blank with the correct word, either bass or base in the correct form.
- _____________ is one of the most popular type of fish to stock ponds and lakes.
- Many guitar players also know how to play the ________________.
- The ____________ of the building has some water damage.
See answers below.
Should I use base or bass? These words have similar spellings, and sometimes they even have the same pronunciation. However, there is no overlap between their definitions.
- Base most often refers to the foundation of something.
- Bass can mean low pitched, a type of musical instrument, or a species of fish.
Make sure to use the correct pronunciation and definition for all uses of these two words.