English is replete with words that sound alike but have totally separate meanings. This always causes confusion, leading to common misuse and mix-ups, like the words tract and track. They might sound similar, but I promise their meanings are as different as night and day. So, get it straight with my tips on telling the differences between track and tract.
Tract vs. Track: What’s the Diff?
A tract is generally a large area of land or a system of organs in the body, like the urinary tract. A tract may also mean a pamphlet or a short essay, usually on a religious subject.
But a track is a simple path or route that you or something else moves on. It can also refer to a recorded piece of music, aka a song. Also, it can mean tracing the movement or progress of something, like the FBI tracking the cell phone of a criminal.
Track or Tract: When to Use Them
Use tract when you’re referring to a broad expanse of land, like a housing tract or a tract of woodland.
But, if you’re talking about anatomical features, tract can also describe a system or network of organs in the body like the digestive or respiratory tract.
Then we turn to the word track which is used when talking about a path or route of travel, like a running track, a train track or keeping track of your expenses.
Track Record or Tract Record?
The correct term to use here is track record. You’ll find it commonly used in the business world, and it means the past achievements or performance of someone, whether a single person or a group.
- The local bakery has a strong track record of customer satisfaction.
On Track or On Tract?
The correct phrase is on track. It means that something is progressing as you had planned or expected it to. So, if your project is proceeding as planned, you could say it’s on track. There’s no such phrase as on tract in the English language.
Tract Package or Tracked Package?
The term tracked package is the correct one to use in any instance. It means a parcel or package in transit that can be monitored, usually through a unique tracking number. There’s no term for a tract package, but you can say:
- I need to track a package.
- I am tracking a package.
- Tim constantly tracks a package.
- Tim tracked a package.
Tract Examples in a Sentence
- The housing tract was developed quickly to accommodate the fast-growing population of our tiny town.
- We invest in a tract of land to build a house on.
- Thank goodness our family doctor is a specialist in the digestive tract because my son has had stomach issues since birth.
- The Baptist church gave out tracts to spread their message of faith and enlightenment.
Track Examples in a Sentence
- The pro athlete ran five laps around the track without breaking a sweat.
- I love the third track on that new Taylor Swift album.
- My son is taking part in the track and field events this year.
- I ran physical track and field for three years.
- We love to sit outside and watch the train barreling down the railway track.
- I’m so glad the courier company provided a number to track my package because it ended up in the wrong province!
Russian track athletes continue to struggle to regain international eligibility, with officials denying many of their requests to compete as so-called neutrals. (The Los Angeles Times)
Track or Tract Facts
So, while tract and track may sound similar to your ear, they serve completely different functions in language. Hopefully, my guide has helped clear up the confusion, putting you on the right track to avoid any linguistic tracts of confusion in the future!