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Base vs. Bass

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  Angbeen Chaudhary  —  Grammar Tips
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Bass and base are homophones, which means they are pronounced similarly but have different meanings. To further complicate matters, each of these words can mean multiple things and be different parts of speech. Just because two words are confusing doesn’t mean that we can’t explore them and find out how to use each one.

In this post, I will compare bass vs. base and use each of these words in several example sentences to illustrate their correct use. Then, I will show you an easy way to remember whether base or bass is the word you really mean.


The word base originated from Middle English: from Old French, from Latin basis ‘base, pedestal’, from Greek. The word bass originated from late Middle English: alteration of base, influenced by basso.

Base as noun:

Base is used as a noun which means the lowest part or edge of something, especially the part on which it rests or is supported.

She sat down at the base of a tree.

Base is also a conceptual structure or entity on which something draws or depends.

The town's economic base collapsed.

A place used as a centre of operations by the armed forces or others; a headquarters is called a base.

He headed back to base.

Base as verb:

Base is used as a verb which means to use (something specified) as the foundation or starting point for something.

The film is based on a novel by Pat Conroy.

To situate at a specified place as the centre of operations is also called base.

The Science Policy Review Unit is based at the University of Sussex.

Bass as noun:

Base vs. Bass

Bass is used as a noun which means the lowest adult male singing voice.

Bass also denotes the member of a family of instruments that is the lowest in pitch.

He plays a bass clarinet.

The low-frequency output of a radio or audio system, corresponding to the bass in music is also called a bass.


Indian troops were still battling at least two gunmen Sunday night at an air force base near the border with Pakistan, more than a day and a half after the compound came under attack, a top government official said.(U.S. News & World Report)

The European Space Agency (ESA) has reiterated a desire to explore the galaxy from a ‘moon village’ built from regolith – a naturally occurring material on the moon which would protect the base from radiation. (The Mirror)

Since there will not be a quick return to the peace process, Erdoğan’s strategy will be to monopolize the nationalist anger against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) by weakening the political base of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). (Today’s Zaman)

The base of the emblem is an image of a book titled “Awakening”, which serves as a reminder of the Arab Renaissance, the epicentre of the Great Arab Revolt. (Petra News Agency)

But many a geologist has fixated instead on the mysterious streak of exposed red sandstone at the base of the famous rock formation. (Lawrence World-Journal)

Despite the Houston map on the bass drum (which belonged to the night’s headliners), these are Austin boys. (The Houston Press)

The French bass Nicolas Teste rounds out the cast as Nourabad, the high priest who brings Leila to the village. (The Huffington Post)

“We didn’t expect to start a group together,” said Sonntag, who also plays bass and harmonica. (The Olympian)

Base or bass:

Bass and base can both be nouns or adjectives, and both have several meanings. Generally speaking, use bass for musical contexts and use base for all other contexts (except fish). Bass and base each have several meanings, so there is not one easy rule that can define all usage cases. If you are referring to a fish or to music, you should use bass. If you are referring to anything other than those two concepts, base is probably your better option. Since the word bass is part of the word contrabass, another word for an instrument that plays low notes, you should be able to remember that bass is used in musical contexts.

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