Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Be vs. Bee

Be and bee 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.

Be (pronounced “bee”) is a verb.

  • it means to exist, to live one’s life.
  • other forms of “be” include am, are, is, being, been, was, and were. Who is speaking, how many people are included in the sentence, and when its taking place determine the proper tense of “be” to use.
    • Am, is, and are are all present tense. I am, you are, he/she/it is, we are, they are. All of these indicate action is happening right now.
    • Being is present participle tense, and is used with other forms of “be:” I was being, you were being, he/she/it was being, we were being, they were being.
    • Been is past participle and used with other verbs, like “have:” I have been, you have been, he/she/it has been, we have been, they have been.
      • Past modals use would, should, could, +”have”, + “been.” Usually these describe ideal circumstances that are sought or desired, but often didn’t happen yet or didn’t happen at all.
    • Was and were are past tense: I was, you were, he/she/it was, we were, they were. All of these indicate action that happened in the past.

Bee (pronounced “bee”) has multiple meanings.

As a noun:

  • It can mean an insect that pollinates plants and lives in a hive. Some bees construct hives of wax, while others nest in wood, earth, or other material.
  • It can mean a contest or focused on prowess in a subject, like spelling, sewing, or geography.
    • The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a musical based on one of these quintessential grade school events. Click the link for video of a performance.
    • The Scripps Spelling Bee is a national event and the only spelling bee to be featured on US sports network ESPN.
    • In the mid 19th century, it was another name for a sewing or other special interest circle among women, for example, quilting bee, painting bee, etc. These groups or others like them still exist in places, but they are not prevalent across America.
    • A queen bee is a large, fertile leader of a hive.
      • Among humans, a “queen bee” is a woman who is a boss or someone in an influential position. It can also be someone who acts like she is the boss when she is not.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Beatriz was hoping she would be one of the blue ribbon winners from her quilting bee at the county fair this year in New Brunswick. Back in Cuzco, her family had been weavers for many generations. Working with cloth and thread came very naturally for her.

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Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Bindi vs. Bendy

Bindi and bendy are easily confused words.

Bindi (pronounced “bihn-dee;” rhymes with windy, lindy) has multiple meanings.

  • As a proper noun, in Indian culture, specifically among Hindus and Jains, it is a painted dot worn on the center of a woman’s forehead. The color indicates her martial status.
  • As a proper noun, it is the first name of Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late Australian conservationist and TV star, Steve Irwin. Bindi means “butterfly” in Australia’s Noongar (aboriginal) language.

Bendy (pronounced “ben-dee;” rhymes with Wendy) is an adjective. It describes something flexible. Due to design, materials, or both, it is capable of being shaped or turned in different directions.

For example, a plastic bendy straw has a series folds that allow it to stretch or collapse. More importantly, the top third of the straw can be oriented in any direction, which assists in drinking without picking up the cup and holding it under one’s chin. Other straws are straight, and attempts to bend them often lead to cracks, breaks, or holes, making the straw leak and become useless.

Benjamin wasn’t sure he would like living in India. His expat parents had found great jobs there, but he would have to start all over making friends at school and finding a new normal. From what he had seen, he looked different from most of the children here.

But a young girl close to his age approached him. She wore a big smile. She had a blue bindi on her forehead. She extended a glass of mango lassi with a bendy straw in it. He tried it. It was… delicious!

“I’m Bimala,” she said. “Do you like Mango Lassi?”

“That’s what this is? It’s delicious! I’m Benjamin, by the way.”

Maybe this move wouldn’t be so bad.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Affliction vs. Affection

Affliction and affection 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.

Affliction (pronounced “uh-flihk-shun”) is a noun. It means an ailment, illness, or disease. It can also mean a situation causing emotional pain or worry.

Affection (pronounced “uh-feck-shun”) is a noun.

  • It means love or tenderness felt towards someone or something else.
  • It means love or tenderness in behavior shown towards someone or something else.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Alfred had broken up with Affie to be with Etta, whom he thought was the one he felt for with great affection. Unfortunately, while out with Etta, he found he really missed Affie. He really missed her when he saw her laughing with other people, including handsome, athletic Drew.

When he told his best friend, Alphonse, this, he just rolled his eyes. “You have a real affliction, mate! You never like what you have until it’s gone!”

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Easily Confused Words: Gemma vs. Gamma

Gemma and Gamma 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.

Gemma (pronounced “jem-uh;”) is a first name for females. It is Italian for “gem,” meaning a precious stone like a diamond, emerald, ruby, sapphire, etc. An alternative spelling is Jemma.

Gamma (pronounced “gam-uh;” ) has multiple meanings.

  • It is the third letter of the Greek alphabet. Its symbol, “Γ” looks like a letter L flipped vertically.
    • It is featured in the symbols for Greek sororities, like Delta Gamma (ΔΓ) and Sigma Gamma Rho (ΣΓΡ), and fraternities like Alpha Gamma Rho (ΑΓΡ) and Kappa Kappa Gamma (ΚΚΓ). If you see a shirt or license plate frame with Greek letters on it, the owner is an alumni of one of these organizations.
    • Gamma is the highest frequency wave of light. It is the radioactive decay of atomic nuclei and it is very fast, moving at the speed of light. Gamma can penetrate every cell and bone in the human body, causing mutation of a person’s DNA and potentially death. Thankfully, Earth’s atmosphere prevents gamma rays from space to affect life on our planet. NASA uses satellites to study gamma ray activity in space; check out this magazine’s blog to learn more.
    • Gamma rays are used in cancer treatment to kill tumors and cancer cells. There is one example at this link. While X-rays, CT scans are also forms of radiation used in healthcare, they have a longer wavelength and are not as dangerous to the human body as gammas. X-rays are made by activating electrons, which is a different process than the creation of gamma rays.
    • In the pop culture, exposure to gamma rays are what caused Bruce Banner to gain superpowers. Following the event, he gained the power to become the Hulk, a very strong giant, when angry.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Gemma knew what she wanted to do when she grew up. She wanted to find a cure for cancer. She had watched her mother, Jamie, undergo treatment for brain cancer involving gemma rays. She was always very nauseous and tired after the treatment.

There had to be an easier way to be cured, Gemma thought, and I’m going to find it.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Riding vs. Ridding

Riding and ridding 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.

Riding (pronounced “reye-dihng;” rhymes with gliding, hiding, biding) has multiple meanings.

  • It is the gerund form of the verb “ride.” To ride means to use an animal or wheeled vehicle for transport. “Riding” indicates this activity is happening in the present, or is being retold in the present about a past event, or indicates a recurring activity. Here are examples of all three:
    • Can I call you back? I am riding my mountain bike right now. I can’t hold a phone on this trail!
    • “You won’t believe what I saw riding my bike back from school today!”
    • Riding my skateboard after work helps me decompress.
  • As an adjective, it describes clothing or safety devices worn specifically while riding.
    • Little Red Riding Hood is wearing a red hooded cloak. She travels on foot in the story, but her cloak was made for traveling on horseback to keep rain, dust, and dirt off her clothes. She wore it much like a windbreaker or jacket would be worn by a child today.
    • In horseback riding. racing, and equestrian events, there are riding clothes. These include pants (or breeches, or jodphurs), knee high boots, a waist length jacket, and a helmet. Horse racing also dictates goggles because sand, soil and mud really fly in a crowd of running horses. Check out horseback riding clothes here.
    • In early cars of the 1900s-1920s, drivers wore riding (aka, motoring) clothes. These items kept road debris and weather off of faces and nicer clothes underneath. They included gloves, goggles, hats, veils, and jackets. Check out a link here. Today, riding clothes are still worn by motorcyclists.

Ridding (pronounced “rihd-ihng;” rhymes with bidding, kidding) is the gerund form of the verb “rid.” To rid is to eliminate or destroy. “Ridding” indicates this elimination is happening in the present tense, or is being retold from a past event.

For example, in a German folktale, the Pied Piper is ridding the town of rats by playing his flute and leading them away. But the town fails to pay him. So he plays another tune that leads their children out of town.

Another example, politicians often make big claims about ridding the government of wasteful spending and corruption once elected.

The following story uses both words correctly:

It was another Monday morning. Ridley was riding his surfboard as the sun rose over Laguna Beach. It was ridding him of all concerns about the upcoming day at work.

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Wherewithal vs. Whippoorwill

Wherewithal and whipporwill 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.

Wherewithal (pronounced “where-wihth-awl”) is a noun. It is another way of saying “by way of” or “the means” to do something.

Whippoorwill (pronounced “whih-puhr-wihl”) is a noun. It means a small nocturnal bird of North America that was named for its unique call. Click here to hear it.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Whistler was on his first camping trip overnight with his troop. He didn’t know if he had the wherewithal to stay all night. He was more than a little scared to be out in the dark in a tent in the woods. It took everything he had not to call his parents and tell them to come fetch him.

His troop leader whispered, “Whistler are you sleeping?”

“No.”

“Are you okay?”

“Sort of?”

A whippoorwill called out.

“What was that?”

“A whipporwill. It’s a bird that comes out at night and calls for a mate.”

“I thought only bats and owls come out at night.”

“Nope, there’s a lot of nocturnal creatures out there.”

“Oh.”

This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Wherewithal vs. Will-o’-the-Wisp

Easily Confused Words

Easily Confused Words: Coroner vs. Corner

Coroner and corner 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.

Coroner (“kohr-uh-nuhr”; rhymes with foreigner) is a noun. A coroner’s job is to determine and certifies the cause of death. Sometimes there are reasons to believe the cause of death wasn’t natural. If it involves foul play, that means police needs to investigate further. In the US, depending on where you live, the coroner is appointed, or chosen by residents’ votes. Every county has a coroner. While some places might employ someone with no medical training, often the coroner has credentials of a medical examiner.

Corner (“kohr-nuhr”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it can mean a part of a room where two walls meet.
  • As a noun, on a polygon, it is where two sides meet.
  • As a verb, it means to back someone, or a creature into a corner. More figuratively, it means to push someone into a situation or circumstances he/she feels he/she can’t escape without surrender or relenting to demands.

The following story uses both words correctly:

In her first five years as coroner of Coronado County, Cory hadn’t seen a crime scene like this one. Police responded to a house where neighbors said no one had exited for a week. A postman on foot, noticing an overflowing mailbox on the porch, also noticed a horrible smell. In the summer heat, the smell was starting to escape the house.

There were no bullet wounds or stabbing marks, so the police suspected the elderly victim had had a heart attack. He was found hunched over in the corner of the room. This is not a body position people get into following cardiac arrest, Cory thought.