Make Your Editor Cry: A different track vs. A different tack

Make Your Editor Cry:  A different track vs. A different tack

The correct phrase has its origins in nautical navigation during the days of sail. The idiom means to take a different approach with a tack describing whether the wind is hitting the port or starboard side of the main sail.

If you change tack or try a different tack, you try a different approach to deal with a situation.

There is no room for the word tacks in this context since this is singular and has to do with a linear progression, nor does this have anything to do with tracks which are typically circular or oval–as in a closed circuit.

The correct phrase is “take a different tack” or “change tack” as you can see in the examples that follow.

Examples:

After explaining that the “R” in MRI originally stood for “Radioactive” and not “Resonance”, he saw nothing but puzzled stares.

Correct:

He decided to try different tack.

He decided to change tack.

He took a different tack.

He changed tack.

Incorrect:

He decided to try different track.

He decided to change track.

He changed tacks.

He changed tracks.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What is 12 + 3 ?
Please leave these two fields as-is:
IMPORTANT! To be able to proceed, you need to solve the following simple math (so we know that you are a human) :-)