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.