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Brake or break? A grammar rant.

Illustration for article titled Brake or break? A grammar rant.

I often see these words misused, but not often on Jalopnik. However, I've noticed it twice on Oppo tonight alone. If we were run-of-the-mill internet citizens, we might be excused for confusing the word "brake" with the word "break". As Opponauts, however, we should lead by example. For those who didn't know any better, you should not be ashamed. I mean only to teach, not to ridicule.


The following has been copied verbatim from "Brake and Break: Answers to Practice Exercises" by Richard Nordquist on

As a noun, brake most commonly refers to a device for slowing down or stopping the movement of a vehicle or machine. The verb brake means to slow down or stop with a brake.

As a noun, break has many meanings, including a fracture, an interruption, a pause, a sudden move, an escape, and an opportunity. The irregular verb break also has many meanings. The most common ones include to split or cut open, to make unusable, to disrupt or get rid of, and to interrupt.


  • Gus released the parking brake, threw the car into drive, and pulled away without once looking back.
  • The bumper sticker on Sadie's pickup truck said, "I don't brake for small animals."
  • The climbers spent three days in their tents, waiting for a break in the weather.
  • Even a good friend may break a promise.
  • It's easier to prevent bad habits than to breakthem.


(a) The mechanic replaced the _____ linings and pads on my van.

(b) People should not _____ the law whenever they feel unjustly treated.

(c) A week after Dillinger's prison _____, his gang robbed the First National Bank of St. Mary's, Ohio.

(d) If you _____ something in this shop, you have to pay for it.


Quiz answers here.

I'm sorry I came off as crass, but this gets my dander up as much as when people shoot vertical videos on their phones.



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