Word Choice: Build vs. Billed
  • 3-minute read
  • 25th February 2021

Word Choice: Build vs. Billed

It’s easy to mix up words that sound alike, such as “build” and “billed.” To make sure your writing is clear, and you know which word to use, read our guide below.

Build (Construct or Develop)

Used as a verb, “build” typically means “construct or develop something.” This might be something physical, like a model or building:

They like to build model aircraft.

The council has plans to build a new car park.

But it can also be more figurative, referring to a process of development:

Taking part in team sports can build a child’s confidence.

I plan to build my business into a global empire!

As a noun, “build” has two main meanings:

  • The physical stature of someone (e.g., He had a heavy build for a sprinter)
  • The construction or form of something (e.g., The car’s build ensures safety)
  • A version of a piece of software (e.g., We fixed the bugs in the new build)

In these cases, then, “build” can refer to something’s form or how it was developed.

Billed (Charged or Promoted)

“Billed” is the simple past tense and past participle form of the verb “bill” (i.e., prepare an invoice or statement of charges). For example:

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The gardener billed his customers at the end of each month.

This means that the gardener sought payment for his services.

Or “bill” can mean “advertise or promote someone or something,” particularly on a sign or poster. For example, we could say:

The promoters billed the band as the festival’s top act.

Less commonly, you might see the word “billed” when reading about creatures that have a bill (i.e., a type of beak), such as a duck-billed platypus or a spoon-billed sandpiper. In this case, “billed” works as part of an adjective.

Summary: Build or Billed?

These words sound similar and both have common uses as a verb, but they have very different meanings in practice:

  • Build typically means “construct or develop something.”
  • Billed is usually a past-tense form of “bill,” meaning “prepare a bill” in order to seek payment for a product or service.

The key difference here is that “billed” is a variation of “bill.” It also follows the standard spelling convention for past tense verbs by ending in “-ed.”

Thus, if you’re looking for a word related to a bill – whether a bill for payment, a sign for an event, or a beak – you will want the spelling “billed.” But if you’re referring to constructing or developing something, the correct spelling will be “build.”

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