Thursday, February 14, 2008

Commonly misused/misspelled words and phrases (Part 13)

There are many words, phrases and punctuation that I see misused all the time. Here are some more:


Wrong: I have ton’s of homework to do.
Right: I have tons of homework to do.

People frequently use apostrophes with plurals. This is incorrect. Plurals never require an apostrophe before the trailing s. Say tons of scrap iron, a box full of toasters, ABCs, or the 1920s (‘20s, for short). But please don't say lot's of cookies or penny's from Heaven (unless she really is).

Baited vs. bated

Wrong: I waited with baited breath.
Right: I waited with bated breath.

Do your friends call you “fish-breath”? If not, then you wait with bated breath, which means “reduced, lessened, lowered in force.” The expression bated breath (using a short form of abated) refers to how someone almost stops breathing through awe, terror, anxiety, or extreme anticipation. Perhaps you waited with bated breath as he baited the hook.

Think we're almost done? Not a chance. I suspect we'll be well up over a hundred such gaffes before I run out. More next time....


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