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25 Common Phrases That You’re Saying Wrong

25 Common Phrases That You’re Saying Wrong

Being a freelance writer, I often find myself messing up common phrases. When I’m unsure, I do a quick Google search to make sure that what I’m writing is actually what I’m trying to say. This inspired me to come up with a list of common phrases that people frequently get wrong. Some of them aren’t completely our fault because the incorrect way of saying them has actually become the “norm”. But we’re still wrong.

Here’s my list of common phrases that you might be saying incorrectly. Don’t be embarrassed if you notice you use the incorrect phrase; we all do it.

The phrases on the left are incorrect, the ones on the right are correct.

1: Nip it in the butt vs. Nip it in the bud

Nipping something in the bud means that you’re putting an end to it before it has a chance to grow or start. Nipping something in the butt means you’re biting its behind.

2: I could care less vs. I couldn’t care less

Saying that you could care less about a topic implies that you do care about it at least a little. What you usually mean is that you don’t care about the topic at all, hence “I couldn’t care less”.

3: One in the same vs.One and the same

When you really sit and think about it, “one in the same” doesn’t mean anything at all. The correct phrase “one and the same” means that two things are the same.

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4: You’ve got another thing coming vs. You’ve got another think coming

This is one of those phrases where the incorrect usage actually does make sense and has become its own phrase. But it’s still technically wrong. In fact, most people don’t even know the correct phrase unless they look it up (I sure didn’t). The correct version really only makes sense if you use the entire sentence “if that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming.”

5: Each one worse than the next vs. Each one worse than the last

Unless you can foresee the future, “each one worse than the next” doesn’t make sense. The problem with this phrase is that it isn’t logical. For example, you can’t compare two bicycles until you’ve tested them both. So logically, you would compare the current bicycle to the last bike you tested.

6: On accident vs. By accident

Sometimes I feel very sorry for people attempting to learn English. With phrases like this, it must be awful. You can do something on purpose, but not on accident. Prepositions are a killer.

7: Statue of limitations vs. Statute of limitations

Whenever I think of these two phrases, I get reminded of one of the best Seinfeld episodes ever.

8: For all intensive purposes vs. For all intents and purposes

You may feel very strongly and intense about your purpose, but that doesn’t make the phrase correct. Another common incorrect use of the phrase is switching the words “for” and “with”. The correct phrase means that you are covering all possibilities and circumstances.

9: He did good vs. He did well

The phrases good and well get interchanged so much that some people think they are actually interchangeable words. They’re not. If you’re ever confused about which to use, here’s a tip: Use “well” as an adverb (words used to describe verbs) and “good” as an adjective (words used to describe nouns). For example:

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  • The dog runs well
  • He is a good dog

10: Extract revenge vs. Exact revenge

When you extract something, you’re taking it out of something else. When you exact onto something, you’re dishing it out. Therefore, extracting revenge on someone would mean you’re taking out that person’s revenge. Exacting revenge onto them means that you’re taking your revenge out on them.

11: Old timer’s disease vs. Alzheimer’s Disease

This one is just kind of silly. It’s really a mistake that we make when we’re younger. As we get older and actually learn about what Alzheimer’s Disease is, we have the sense to say the word correctly.

12: I’m giving you leadway vs. I’m giving you leeway

Leadway actually isn’t even a word. Leeway means extra space and freedom.

13: Aks vs. Ask

You don’t aks/axe for things. You ask for them. I’m not sure when the “s” and “k” got switched but it happens all the time when people talk.

14: What’s your guyses opinion? vs. What’s your opinion, guys?

I’ll leave this explanation to the Urban Dictionary:

completely and utterly useless phrase people up north use in the place of ya’ll. it means you guys, but they just have to be stupid and (besides not using the much simpler phrase ya’ll) add -es to the phrase “you guys”. As I have said many times with great wisdomosity, ya’ll is much simplier to say.

15: Expresso vs. Espresso

I’m sure those of you who work at coffee shops have had people order an expresso before. There’s no such drink. The drink you’re trying to order is an espresso.

16: Momento vs. Memento

Momento isn’t a word. A memento is a keepsake.

17: Irregardless vs. Regardless

Regardless means without regard. Throwing on “IR” to the beginning makes the word a double negative. I think we can all agree that “without without regard” doesn’t make sense.

18: Sorta vs. Sort of

The phrase “sort of” was too long so someone decided to shorten it up and turn it into sorta. I think it’s just sorta lazy.

19: Conversating vs. Conversing

Drop the “on” and add an “ng” and you have yourself a new verb right? Wrong. Conversating is an unofficial word that a lot of people use in place of the correct term, conversing.

20: Scotch free and Scott free vs. Scot free

I’ve seen so many explanations of the origins of the phrase “Scot free” that I really don’t know where it came from. But what I do know is that Scotch free and Scott free are incorrect.

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21: I made a complete 360 degree change in my life vs. I made a complete 180 degree change in my life

People say they’ve made a complete 360 degree change in their life to imply that they’ve completely changed from the way they used to be. However, going 360 degrees means that you’ve returned to the exact same place you started. Which would mean you didn’t change at all. A 180 degree change would mean that you are the complete opposite which is what most people are trying to say.

22: Curl up in the feeble position vs. Curl up in the fetal position

Feeble means weak and frail. So in a way, curling up in a feeble position isn’t too far off. However, the actual fetal position that people are referring to is the curled up position that fetuses use while in the womb.

23: Phase vs. Faze

The word “phase” is usually used when talking about periods of time or stages. For instance, “Bob’s interest in the iPhone 5 was just a phase.” However, phase is often mistakenly used in place of the word faze, which means to disrupt. Here’s a paragraph from an article that shows the common mistake.

EAT 5:53: Uganda 2-1 Angola. Five minutes of added time, can the Cranes hang on? Cranes coach Micho Sedojevic unphased, but still urges the boys to hang on. Cranes piling the pressure

24: Hone in vs. Home in

The word hone means to sharpen or improve somehow. For example, you can hone your speaking skills. To home in on something means to get closer to it. “We’re homing in on a cure for cancer”.

25: Brother in laws vs. Brothers in law

If your wife or husband has several siblings, they’re called your “brothers/sisters in law”. I’m about to get a little grammar nerdy with my explanation so get ready. The general rule of thumb for making a compound noun plural is to add a “s” to the noun that there’s more of. In our case, the words brother and law are both nouns. Since the word you’re pluralizing is brother, you add an “s” to it, not law.

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Last Updated on December 2, 2018

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

1. Connecting them with each other

Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

2. Connect with their emotions

Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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3. Keep going back to the beginning

Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

4. Link to your audience’s motivation

After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

5. Entertain them

While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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6. Appeal to loyalty

Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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