Two verbs, distinguished by a single letter, with very similar conjugations in the present tense. One strong, one weak…some i-shift, some u-shift – what’s not to like? 🙂

að bera – to carry, bear
present past
ég ber bar
þú berð barst
það ber bar
við berum bárum
þið berið báruð
þau bera báru

The verb að bera is a strong verb that exhibits the e-a-á-o i-shift in the past tense. Like most common words, bera has an insane number of uses in many different expressions and phrases. I’ve barely begun to scratch the surface, but here’s some of what I’ve learned:

bera vitni – testify, bear witness, give evidence
bera kennsl á einhvern – recognize somebody
bera ábyrgð á einhverju – be responsible for something
bera höfuðið hátt – hold your head high
bera upp eitthvað – propose something
bera út einhvern – evict somebody
bera saman – compare

It can be used in impersonal expressions with the meaning of something needing to be done (someone is obliged or has responsibility for it):
það ber að gera þetta – it needs to be done
honum/henni ber að gera þetta – he/she needs to do that

In addition to the the meaning bear as in carry, it can mean bear as in give birth, when talking about animals. In reflexive form, it might be seen in describing something being carried along, like a boat on the water. In news reports it is common to see the past tense barst. Here is means arrived, received:

Tilkynning barst rétt fyrir klukkan tíu…
Notice was received just before 10 o’clock…

Áður en aðstoð barst…
Before help arrived (reached them)…

· · ·
að berja – to beat (punch)
present past
ég ber barði
þú berð barðir
það ber barði
við berjum börðum
þið berjið börðuð
þau berja börðu

The verb að berja is a bit simpler. In addition to meaning beat, it can mean knock:
berja að dyrum – to knock on a door

In reflexive form it means fight:
Þeir börðust. – They fought.
berjast fyrir einhverju – fight for something

There are also some forms of the neuter noun ber (berry) that I saw in an article that might briefly confuse. One sentence is:
Enn er varhugavert að neyta frosinna berja.
It is still dangerous to eat frozen berries.

In this case berja is the genitive plural of ber, because the verb að neyta (to eat, consume) requires the genitive.

ber (n) – berry
singular plural
nom ber ber
acc ber ber
dat beri berjum
gen bers berja