Week 4

The final week of pet peeves! Again, these aren’t just words or expressions that bug me for some reason — they’re mistakes I see so commonly when proofreading that they’ve become pet peeves of mine.

For the big finale, I have not one but three writing mistakes/pet peeves that must be eradicated from the face of the earth.

Naw / Nah

Which is correct?


“Nah” is an actual word. It’s a variant spelling of “no.” It can be pronounced “naw,” but that doesn’t mean it should be spelled that way.

Taken back / Taken aback

Which is correct?

Taken aback

“Taken back” is actually a legitimate construction, but it means something different from what the screenwriters who use the phrase typically intend. If someone is taken back, it means they’re transported somewhere they had previously been.

If someone is taken aback, it means they are surprised or shocked by something and stunned for a moment… which is the usage that I commonly see the wrong word (i.e. “back”) used.

As best as we can / As best we can

Which is correct?

As best we can

This error is so common it’s mind-boggling. I even heard Rachel Maddow, who is usually an exemplar of eloquence, say it incorrectly twice in one episode.

I believe the issue stems from confusion with the legitimate expression, “as well as we can.” So just remember, if you use the word “best,” you need to leave out that second “as.”

Did anyone learn anything from these last four weeks, or was it all just a cathartic rant for the author? 🙂