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Beam vs. Bean

English, like many languages, is characterized by homophones—words that share a similar pronunciation but have different meanings. Two such words that often lead to confusion are 'beam' and 'bean.' Though they may sound alike, these words have distinct definitions and applications in the English language.

1:19 min read
  Courtney Emerson  —  Grammar Tips
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The word 'beam' primarily functions as a noun and a verb, each with its own set of meanings:

1. Noun - A Long, Horizontal Support

As a noun, 'beam' refers to a long, sturdy piece of timber or metal that is used as a horizontal support in construction or for other structural purposes.

Example Usage:

The carpenters installed a wooden beam across the ceiling to support the weight of the floor above.

2. Verb - To Emit Light or Radiance

As a verb, 'beam' is associated with emitting light or radiant energy. It can also express a person's joyful or radiant expression.

Example Usage:

The lighthouse beamed its light across the dark sea, guiding ships safely to shore.

Beam vs. Bean

Her face beamed with happiness as she received the good news.


'Bean,' on the other hand, is exclusively a noun and refers to a seed or seedpod of various plants belonging to the legume family. Beans are commonly consumed as a staple food in many cultures and come in different varieties such as kidney beans, black beans, and green beans.

Example Usage:

She added kidney beans to the chili for extra protein and flavor.

The farmer planted a field of soybeans for a nutritious harvest.


In summary, 'beam' and 'bean' may share a similar pronunciation, but they have distinct meanings. 'Beam' refers to a structural support or the emission of light, while 'bean' is a seed or seedpod of leguminous plants, commonly used as food. Understanding these differences ensures clarity and precision in communication when using these words in spoken or written English.

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