Word list: F

faze, phase

Sometimes confused.

  • To faze means to disturb or disconcert [someone].
  • Phase (noun or verb) refers to [carrying out] a stage in a series of events, or a process of change or development.

feedback, feed back

One word as a noun; two words a a verb. When you give someone your feedback, you can be said to feed back.

fine-toothed comb

When you go over something assiduously you can be said to be taking a fine-toothed (or fine-tooth) comb to it. Not a fine toothcomb, which would be nonsense.

flair, flare

Sometimes confused.

  • Flair means a special aptitude, or stylishness and originality.
  • A flare is a brief burst of bright flame or light, or a sudden burst of intense emotion. The word can also refer to a garment that gets wider towards one end – like flared trousers, which some of us may remember as being popular in the seventies.

flak, flack

Sometimes confused.

  • Flak means excessive or abusive criticism. The earlier, literal meaning of flak is anti-aircraft artillery – it’s an abbreviated form of the German word Fliegerabwehrkanone.
  • Flack is a colloquial term for a press agent or publicist.


One word.

focused, focuses, focusing

Single S.

forever, for ever

In UK English a useful distinction can be made:

  • Forever means perpetually or continually or repeatedly.
  • For ever means eternally (or something that will last for a very long time).


Use hyphens when expressing fractions in words: two-thirds.

from… to

Use a from… to construction to describe a range of values or sizes or dates, e.g. “from July to November” or “from small companies to global corporations”. Avoid using this construction when you’re not actually referring to the extremes of a logical range, e.g. “from pharmaceuticals to finance”, because your reader might not know what set of things it is that you’ve got in mind.

front end, front-end

Two separate words as a noun; hyphenated as an adjective. Your front-end applications are at the front end.

FTSE 100, FTSE 250, FTSE 350

With a non-breaking space between the letters and the numbers.


Single L.