Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0: Arrrrrrrrrrgh


Every Wednesday, Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 features handy tips to enhance all of our writing, from daily emails to articles to books. After all, everyone needs to write, right?

In honor seeing the latest installment in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise last night, here are some tricky words and phrases that begin with the letter “R.” Also, for those of you who have subscriptions, the May issue of EFG Digest is out today. Look for it in your mailboxes.

Drink up, me hardies, yo ho!


Racket, not racquet, is the correct way to spell the name of the lightweight implement used in tennis and badminton. The word also can mean a confused clattering noise, clamor, a social whirl, or a fraudulent scheme.

However, when referring to the sport played on a four-walled court, it is racquetball.


Ramadan is the Muslim holy month marked by daily fasting from dawn until sunset. It ends with Eid al-Fitr. This year, Ramadan began on Friday and continues until June 24. The Associated Press Stylebook 2016 cautions against referring to it as “the holiday,” on second reference since it’s a month of fasting, introspection, and prayer. For more Muslim terms, click here.

Rank and file, rank-and-file 

The noun form is rank and file, no hyphens. But if it’s used as an adjective, it must be hyphenated since it is a compound modifier.

Refrain, restrain

To stop yourself from doing something is to refrain.

Restrain is when other people stop you.

Relegate, delegate

To relegate means to assign someone a lesser position or to hand over for decision or execution.

To delegate is to authorize another to act on one’s behalf.


The police officer was relegated to desk duty pending the results of the investigation. 

Congress delegated educational regulations to the Department of Education.

Repellent, repulsive

Both words are meant for things that drive others away, according to the Chicago Manual of Style, but repulsive has “strong negative connotations of being truly disgusting.”

EFG Digest

Love all the grammar tips, but don’t have time to check the blog every week? Subscribe to EFG Digest, a monthly recap of all of my Editing for Grammarphobes 2.0 blog posts delivered to your inbox in one convenient newsletter. Click here to sign up.


These five books are on my desk at all times. Maybe they'll help you as well.

The Associated Press Stylebook, 2016 edition
The Chicago Manual of Style
Strunk and White's The Elements of Style
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition
The Bugaboo Review: A lighthearted guide to exterminating confusion about words, spelling, and grammar


A professional writer/editor for almost 30 years, Karen Wojcik Berner's wide and varied experience includes such topics as grammar, blog content, book reviews, corporate communications, the arts, paint and coatings, real estate, the fire service, writing and literature, research, and publishing. An award-winning journalist, her work has appeared in several magazines, newspapers, and blogs, including the Chicago Tribune, Writer Unboxed, Women's Fiction Writers, Naperville Magazine, and Fresh Fiction. She also is the author of three contemporary women's fiction novels and is a member of the Chicago Writers’ Association. For more information on Karen, please visit www.karenberner.com.


Mel Parish said…
I think there may be a difference between the American and British definition of a racquet - they were certainly called tennis racquets when I was growing up, the same for Badminton. I always preferred the other version because it is much easier to spell! These are great articles, Karen. I really enjoy reading them.
So many words are written different ways depending on the part of speech they are being used for. I correct this all the time for clients.
You might be right, Mel. I seem to remember the racquet spelling somewhere in my youth as well, but now AP Style is going for the more simple racket. I'm so glad you like the posts. Thanks much!
Absolutely, Kelly. It really is a tricky business.
Mel Parish said…
Karen, Is the AP Style an international standard? Or do the Brits have their own version? I probably should know this but it's been a long time since I lived there!
The Associated Press is based in the U.S. It looks like the Brits use BBC Style. Here's the link, if you're curious.


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