Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Grammar Lesson: Sneak Peek VS. Sneak Peak

As a child, I was a horrible student of grammar.

Past participles, dangling modifiers, prepositions - it was all garbage to me.

From my 7th grade perspective, I needed to know how to read and how to write - but grammar was sheer fluff. Like Latin.

Little did I know grammar manages the mechanics of the language I love so dearly. Over time, I've discovered the nuances of the English language, and feel quite comfortable navigating the rules of grammar.

Sometimes I don't know why the rule exists (or even what it is), but I know there's a reason why a phrase sounds better written one way and not another.

It's a little bit like when a prodigy knows how to play classical piano without having any understanding of music theory.

I should state at this juncture that in no way am I am a prodigy where the English language is concerned.

Quite the contrary.


My love of vocabulary and language have brought on a crop of pet peeves, one of which I'll share with you today.


Sorry for the shouting, but it's the kind of thing I want to exclaim from a mountaintop.

Which is exactly what you're talking about when you use 'sneak peak.'

To give someone a 'sneak peek' is to offer them a preview, an early glance, a secret look ahead.

When mentioning 'sneak peak,' you are talking about a secretive mountain, as PEAK refers to the top of a mountain or ridge.

Now, here's the little trick I discovered to remember the difference.

Put the words in all caps.


The second version (the one about the secretive mountain) has a capital A in it. Imagine that capital A is a big, snowy mountain in the Alps - the Matterhorn, Mont Blanc - whichever mountain you prefer. Take a long hard look at that A. See how the top half, the part above the crossbar, is snowy and white? And can't you just picture little Alpine skiers whooshing down both sides of that jagged mountain?

Can't you taste the gluhwein at some cozy chalet at the foot of the mountain (hat tip to Julie)?

Next time you write 'sneak peak,' think long and hard about that secretive mountain in the Alps, and the skiers who don't want you to spill their secret.

And then, type 'sneak peek.'

Creative Commons License
Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


TGirsch said...

The one that gets me is when people use "less" when they ought to be using "fewer."

And the dreaded "lose"/"loose" conflation. Aaaauuugh! *Self immolates*

Jeregano said...

I have several grammar obstacles to overcome but perhaps my most ridiculous and personally infuriating (keep in mind this is something I do, and as far as I've been able to discern only I do so I am really only infuriated at myself) is that I have a roll problem. Or a role problem. For some reason I consistently, while typing, use the food stuff every time I need to right the word role/roll. This really confused my adviser and some committee members when I would write something had a scientific roll in cancer or some such. Luckily spell check can't correct that kind of error and my eye for some reason rarely notices it. I guess it is an unhealthy love of bread stuffs.

Lavender Garden said...

English is not my native tongue but I was wondering wether a "sneak peak" could possible be something else - like for instance something to do with peaking in secret - Maybe it's a secret roll in the hay, and here I'm not implying that any bread is involved. I may not be completely in control of the English language, but I'm hoping that you get my drift. I'm Danish - but I love the English language and I hope that you're not offended :o)

Tony B said...

sneak peak = undercover orgasm.

I saw someone today use past instead of passed.
"I'm sorry your father has past."
Actually all of us have past. Actually a past. But you get the gist.

Laura said...

Hi Kate!
Nice blog. :) I was actually looking around to see which version was correct (not a native English speaker). I used "sneak peek" on my blog but I was sure I saw "sneak peak" on other occasions also. So I was a bit confused. Although, as you stated if you divide the word and know its meaning you can easily tell it's "peek". Thanks so much for clearing that out!


Oscar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
smoovebert said...

i found this post by googling "sneak peak" vs. "sneak peek".

I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE TYPE "SNEAK PEAK" Part of me has a sneaking suspicion that maybe people's brains and fingers want to tie the two together with a common spelling since they are sort of alliterative sounding. Having said all that, people should know better and do some effing proofreading!

Unknown said...

Congratulations! Your post is number one in Google's SERPs when I typed "is it sneak peak or sneak peek".

Thanks for the tips!

Anonymous said...

Hi! I also googled "seak peek or peak" and found your entry! English is my second language so this was very helpful! Thanks! / Amanda (Sweden)

T said...

LOL so awesome post though haha :D

Anonymous said...

English is my second language, and I just got yelled at by a client (I work at an advertising agency) for changing their copy from "Check out a sneak peak of the series..." to "Check out a sneak peek of the series..."

Thank you, I knew I was right! They left the wrong version though, at least I tried to correct them.

Mr Wobblytickle said...

'My love of vocabulary and language have brought on a crop of pet peeves' should be 'My love of vocabulary and language HAS brought on a crop of pet peeves' as love is singular. But keep up the good work!

Kate The Great said...

Actually, friend, vocabulary and language are two different nouns, requiring a plural form of have. But thanks for the gratuitous copyediting!

Mr Wobblytickle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr Wobblytickle said...

I'm still not convinced. ;)

I've lots of pet peeves too.

Like 'one in five people have, when it should be 'has'.

Tempting fate, when fate is something that was always going to happen.

Should have 'went', instead of should have 'gone'.

To try 'and' instead of to try 'to'.

Also, why do people generally assume Humpty Dumpty was an egg?
And what were his royal friends letting him sit on a wall for, with all its inherent dangers?
Further, why did they let the king's horses, as opposed to actual doctors, have a go at putting him back together again?

And 'your' welcome to the gratuitous copyediting.

Unknown said...

And to think I was going to use Sneek Peek even though I knew it was wrong. I find your wallpaper hypnotizing.

Some highlights from Scranton Pennsylvania speech.

When declaring that something belongs to you - that's mayan.

When in speech you are looking for a response to your opinion on something. Such as - The price of porketta is out of control, heyna?

I understand heyna to be like saying huh, or don't you think, or even though I'm a moron can you agree with me out of fear that heyna really means something else.

Tree is the number after two.

Compound use - A couple two tree.

Bat Tree is what you put in a flashlight. I honestly don't know where the bats sleep around here.

Dajeet. You'll never guess this one....
Dajeet? No ju? Ok lets go get some food. Maybe porketta.

Don't believe it can be true? Check out Heynabonics on YouTube.

It's on the Internets.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for your article. I'm not great a grammar & find myself always checking. I was about to post the wrong peak for my website.

aliyaa said...

I also think that students must have spelling correction software so that they overcome their mistakes.