Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Be careful about the spelling of "bated breath"

No. 2 on Daphne Gray-Grant's Top 25 grammar and language mistakes is misspelling "bated breath."
"If you write baited breath," explains Gray-Grant on Ragan.com, "everyone will suspect fishing is your favorite hobby. The word should be spelled bated, which comes from abated, meaning held."

Another good one on her list is No. 5:
Confusing “racked” with “wracked.” If you are racked with nerves, you are feeling as if you are being stretched on the torture device, the rack. You rack your brain when you try to write difficult stories. Wrack, on the other hand, has to do with ruinous accidents. With luck, this won’t apply to your writing, but it might just apply to the stock market, which has been wracked by recession.

And then there's the very important No. 21:
Using “they” when referring to a business. “Starbucks said they would give everyone a free latte today.” Although this might sound right, the correct sentence is: “Starbucks said it would give everyone a free latte today.” And if that grates on your ears, then rewrite the sentence to avoid the problem: “Starbucks is offering everyone a free latte today.”

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