Easily Confused Words: Been vs. Bean

Been and bean are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Been (pronounced US: “bih-n”, UK: “bee-n”) is a verb, it’s the past tense of “be.” “Be” is used to indicate someone’s status right now, while “been” indicates status over a long period, or a former status.

For example:

It’s been a long time since we last saw each other.

She’s always been outgoing.

Bean (pronounced “bee-n”) is a noun. It means legumes, or a plant-based food noted for growing seeds in pods. Sometimes the seeds and pods are consumed, sometimes just the seeds.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Bente converted to a mostly vegetarian diet. In just a few weeks, she noticed how much more energy she had after consuming veggies and beans versus bread. She also noticed her clothes were fitting more loosely. She wasn’t as heavy as she had been just two months ago.


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