I thought put the brakes on was an obvious automotive idiom and that everyone would be able to spell it correctly. Then I opened my eyes and realised that some people are writing put the breaks on instead. Oh dear.
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There’s no room for argument here: put the breaks on is flat-out wrong, and essentially nonsensical when you think about it. Brakes is also the easier-to-spell of these two identical-sounding words, so you might assume it would be the first choice for everyone. That assumption would, sadly, be incorrect.
If you’re in the habit of making this mistake, it’s time to break the habit. Accuracy matters.
Lifehacker’s Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.