B is for Bouncing Bette

Saponaria officinalis
Bouncing Bette or soapwort grows in waste places and roadsides.

Special characters: brackets

Brackets are used to distinguish text in an aside when parentheses are not appropriate.

( ) parentheses

[  ] square brackets

{  } braces or curly brackets

< > angle brackets

Square brackets may indicate a comment or explanation made by the editor, outside of the original text.

Angle brackets are sometimes used to delineate URLs and e-mail addresses.

The opening angle bracket ( < ) may be a symbol for “less than” and the closing angle bracket ( > ), for “more than”.

Special brackets are commonly used to express mathematical functions. Make sure to use the correct keyboard characters to create these brackets.

Special reading assignment

  1. “One cannot borrow beauty; it must be brought up, like a baby, from within.”
  2. Beaver dams, on one hand, may cause floods. On the other, they may maintain a wetland environment.

B is for Black-eyed Susan

Rudbeckia serotina
A bee is seeking nectar in the flower of a black-eyed Susan.

Better and best

Use better and best to make comparisons or to make a judgement on the value of something.

As adjectives

She has a good car.

Better is used as a comparison to good.

He has a better car.

Best is used as a superlative.

They wanted the best car.

As adverbs

The car is running well.

Better is used as a comparison to well.

It had a problem, but now the car is running better.

Best is used as a superlative.

That race car runs best in its class.


How are you? I’ve been better!

How’s your day? It couldn’t be better!

How do you like your new car? It’s the best I’ve ever had.

B is for Bridge

This bridge spans the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada.
This bridge spans the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada.

The Letter B

B is a consonant and may be spelled, “bee”.

B is derived from the Greek letter beta and the Phoenician and Hebrew, beth. The original meaning of beth was “house”.

Beta means second. For example, the beta version of software is the next version, usually on trial and somewhat incomplete.

Silent Bs

Words with a silent b include

bdellium (a mineral), and subtle.

Words that end in bt

debt, doubt

Words that end in mb

bomb, climb, comb, crumb, door jamb, dumb, lamb, limb, numb, plumb, succumb, thumb, tomb, womb

Note that words ending in bt or mb keep the silent b, even with the addition of suffixes.

debtor, bomber, plumber


limber, timber [pronounce the b]


B is for Basswood

Tilia americana
Basswoods are often planted as an ornamental tree along city streets.

Things that are important often have more than one name. The basswood tree has a number of names, in part derived from how the tree is used and in part derived from other languages. Each name provides a different emphasis or connotation.

The name “basswood” refers to the tree as a source of bast, the flexible inner bark used as a fibre for matting.

The same tree was once called “teil”, now “tilleul”. This name also describes the pale yellow-green colour of the flowers and bracts that make a popular tea, especially in France. An effective darning stitch, called “gris-tilleul”, reflects the shape of the flowers and bracts.

There are around thirty species growing in temperate climates. The scientific name, genus Tilia, derives from the old name for tree, “teil”. Two common species are Tilia americana and T. europaea.

In England, the tree is called a “lime tree”, although it is in no way related to the citrus lime tree.

“Linden” was originally an adjective meaning “made from lime wood”. The wood itself is soft and easy to carve, unlike many other deciduous trees. Now linden is another name for the basswood tree.

Later on we will discuss synonyms, different terms used to describe similar things.

B is for Blackbird

A grackle sits in an oak tree.


be— stands for existing or doing

beneath, bestir, between, beware

bi— stands for two

bicycle, bisexual

biblio— about books

bibliography, bibliophile

bio— about life

biochemistry, biology, biome

by— means near, along, passing through, or done by an agency






by Words that end in b may be given a ─y suffix. The addition of the —y requires the b to be doubled to preserve the sound of the vowel.

 crabby, tabby, hobby, lobby

able and —ible

Words that end in ─able or ─ible refer to something able to be or fit to be.









B is for Banana

Fruit: bananas
A basket of bananas.

Significance, abbreviations, and contractions

B stands for the second in the order of things.

b. may stand for “born” or “date of birth”, e.g., the Right Hon. Richard Bedford Bennett, b. 3 July 1870.

As an abbreviation, B.A. or BA after a name is a bachelor of arts degree.

B’y is a contraction for “boy” in Newfoundland English. (“I’s the b’y that builds the boat” is a popular folk song.)

Bye in “good bye” is also a contraction. “Good bye” means “God be with you”.

Bye-bye” is a further contraction.