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Your English: Word grammar: bar

Type: Article

We think Tim Bowen is the best bar none!

The word bar is most commonly used as a noun, but it can also function as a verb and, a little more rarely, as a preposition.

Apart from its more common meanings (a place that serves alcoholic drinks, a long, narrow piece of metal, and a block of chocolate or soap), a bar can also mean something that prevents something else from happening, as in ‘We have to ensure that a person’s ethnic background is no bar to success in the workplace’.

The bar is the profession of being a barrister (a lawyer who has the right to speak in a higher court of law), and if you are called to the bar, you become a barrister. However, if you find yourself behind bars, you are in prison.

As a verb, bar can mean to prohibit, as in ‘He was barred from running for political office for five years’. It can also mean to put something across a door or window so that no-one can get through it, as in ‘Bar all the doors and don’t let anyone in’, or to block someone’s path, as in ‘There were three vicious-looking dogs barring our way’.

In British English, bar can be used as a preposition after words such as all, every and any to mean ‘except’, as in ‘The city centre is closed to all traffic after 6pm bar buses and taxis’.

The expression bar none is used to emphasize that someone or something is the best, as in ‘She’s the best story-teller in the country, bar none’.    

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