GrammarPhile Blog

What a Difference a Space Makes

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Apr 10, 2011 5:30:00 AM

CarsAll day and all night, customers ask us to find problems in documents. Our editors are really good at it. Some mistakes are easier to find than others, of course. And sometimes a space makes all the difference.

Perhaps one of the most common mistakes we see is the word everyday used when it should be two words: every day. Examples of correct use: Customers use us every day to find mistakes in proposals and slide shows. Misuse of the space character is an everyday occurrence for some of our needier clients.

Other words posing space issues include abase, blackout, pickup, apiece, altogether, runoff, and blowout.

An interesting one is goldbrick. With the space, a gold brick is worth a lot of money (around $1449 per ounce as of 4/5/2011!). Without the space, a goldbrick is something that appears to be valuable but is actually worthless, or it is a person who shirks assigned work.

Now for current events: The word bail has at least four meanings.

  • It is a container used to remove water from a boat.
  • It is the temporary release of a prisoner in exchange for security given for the due appearance of the prisoner.
  • It is a hinged bar for holding paper against the platen of a typewriter.
  • And in England, it is a device for confining or separating animals.

When combined with out, it can take on two new meanings. With a space, bail out is a verb meaning to parachute from an airplane or to abandon a harmful or difficult situation. Without the space, bailout is a noun that means "a rescue from financial distress."

So...if you are writing about related events these days, use the one-word form, as in "The government bailout plan began as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008."

Topics: spaces, mistakes, common mistakes, space issues, spacing

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