be it .... or ....

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Wookie, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. Wookie

    Wookie Senior Member

    Korea, Korean
    Experience the finest facilities in a serene environment, be it a sensuous spa treatment or a round of golf on our Greg Norman-designed championship golf course.

    It seems "be it ... or ..." means whether it be ... or". Am I right on this?
    I'd like to know if "be it .... or ..." is grammatically correct and if this construction is often used.
  2. Broccolicious Senior Member

    Glorious Devonshire
    English - England
    Hi Wookie

    Yes, your interpretation is correct. And yes, it's grammatically correct, and we do use it, but it's quite formal. 'Whether it's a spa treatment or a round of golf' would be more common.

    I'll take the spa treatment, by the way. Thanks!

  3. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I agree with Broccolicious that I would normally think of this construction as very formal. However, it has been a fad lately, at least in US advertising and commentary, to overuse this construction. I believe the fad is fading, but a few years ago it would not be unusual to hear this in a television advertisement for cars or soap.

    In other words, I think it has been considered formal in the past, in general, but it is enjoying some popularity in less formal contexts recently. I find it very odd that it would be adopted into less formal contexts, but from my experience it definitely has.

    Here are some recent examples of this construction
    An open source invention - be it the code for the popular Firefox browser or the blueprints for a $100 laptop - operates under open source principles. Until very recently, this has only thrived in the weightless world of computer code.
    Be it the style of your hair or the way you walk, if your steady suddenly finds fault with everything you do s/he is probably trying to push you away.
    I find it quite dangerous that so many people want to become their own boss because they hate their current jobs. They want to escape from what they hate, be it the boring job itself or the demanding boss or the work environment. I don’t say this is no good for moral reasons
  4. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    'Be it...' has the meaning you have described here 'whether it be...' and a further use:
    Be it ever so humble, There's no place like home.

    Here it means: 'Although it is very...' and has a common idiomatic use although an archaic form in both uses.

    It is the basis of the conjunction 'albeit' -al·beit (ôl bēit)
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2008
  5. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    "Be it" is an example of the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive is very rare in modern English, and its rarity often leads to confusion about it, even among native speakers.:)
  6. breskva New Member

    I've a question concerning this "be it...or ..." construction: Can we use it only with nouns (as in the example above "be it a spa treatment or a round of golf") or does it also apply to adjectives? Can we say, for example, "Be it rainy or sunny, the weather never discouraged him from taking a trip to the mountains" ?

  7. jsola New Member

    Catalan - Catalonia
    Hi, my question is related to this one. Can I build the plural of this sentence with "be them pears or apples..." ? My sentence is:

    <<Most of the visual SLAM approaches rely on landmarks defined by interest points detected in the images, be them Harris, SIFT or SURF or other features.>>

    Thank you!
  8. Aardvark01

    Aardvark01 Senior Member

    Midlands, England
    British English (Midlands)
    It sounds OK to me to use this construct but using the subject "they" not the object "them":

    "be they pears or apples (we have eaten them)"

    It is a use similar to that found in the fairytale "Jack and the Beanstalk" where the giant says:
    "Be he live or be he dead I'll grind his bones..."
    where the subject "he" is used and not the object "him."
  9. jsola New Member

    Catalan - Catalonia

    Hey thanks a lot Aardvark! I'll follow your advice.

  10. Jammian New Member

    India - Hindi & English
    In the sentence such as ' And be it the prison workers or the police, all of them treat them as criminals.' is "be it ... or ..." an idiomatic (frozen) expression?

    Also, is it like 'whether ... or ...' ?
  11. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
  12. learner99 New Member

    I realise that the structure "be it...or..." always hover around two options. Can I use it for more than two in my sentence?
    "Be it choreographing a modern dance, designing a Web site, or practicing with their a cappella group, students will be able to discover their passion which would otherwise have gone unnoticed."

    By the way have I use the word "otherwise" correctly in the context?
  13. DonnyB

    DonnyB Senior Member

    Coventry, UK
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Yes, you can have three or more options in a "be it... or..." construction: that's fine.

    And the "otherwise" there looks OK to me. :)

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