Thursday, January 30, 2014

Things you're probably saying wrong

I mentioned that I'm a teacher, but I don't think I specified.  I am an English teacher.  The connotation with English teachers isn't great.  People think English teachers are constantly judging the grammar of everyone around them; these people are right.  My friends and family, God bless their souls, put up with my constant corrections.  A lot of people lighten up when a certain television series, food epidemic, or controversial issue arrises in conversation, but for me, Grammar is what really gets me going.  

This post was inspired by an incident that occurred yesterday, where I learned about a phrase that I had been using incorrectly my  Also, I recently found an old notebook from my "Traditional Grammar" course (which I LOVED).

Here are a list of commonly misused words and phrases beginning with the one I only learned about yesterday.

1. "For all intensive purposes."
Correct way to say it: "For all intents and purposes."  MIND BLOWN!!!

2. "I could care less."
Correct way to say it: "I couldn't care less."
Most people use this phrase when expressing a lack of caring about someone or something, but when they say, "I could care less," they're actually saying they care.  Crazy, huh?

3. "I nipped that problem in the butt!"
Correct way to say it: "I nipped that problem in the bud."  This is symbolic of nipping a plant in the bud which would prevent it from growing, not butt!

4. "You're wrong.  Case and point."
Correct way to say it: "Case in point." 

5. "I should of eaten salad instead of those cheese fries."
Correct way to say it: "I should have eaten salad instead of those cheese fries."

6."Irregardless, you should have gone home."
Correct way to say it: "Regardless, you should have gone home."

7. "I have such hunger pains right now; I'm starving."
Correct way to say it: "I have such hunger pangs right now; I'm starving."

8. Lay vs. Lie
This is a really hard one, but it's a quick fix!  If you are talking about an inanimate object, then it is lay.  Ex: I am going to lay my phone down.  If you are talking about a human, then you use lie. Ex: I just want to lie down. The way to remember this is that humans can actually lie, while things, such as phones, cannot!  You're welcome.

9. Wonder vs. Wander
These two get misused more often than one would think.  The way I remember it: think of the o in wonder as a circle in a thought bubble.  If you wonder something, then it is something that you think about.  On the other hand, wandering around somewhere can be used synonymously with walking around somewhere.

10. Good vs. Well
This one is simple: Cake is good, YOU are well :)

11. Affect vs. Effect
First of all, phonetically, affect is pronounced with a long a sound.  These two words are not necessarily homophones, because they are pronounced differently.  Affect is typically a verb which means to influence, while effect is typically a noun which means the result of.
Ex: Our conversation really affected my decision to go out tonight.
The effect smoking has on your body is very scary.

12. Redundant
This word is most often used as a synonym for "repetitive," when it actually means superfluous, or unnecessary.

13. "You did a terrific job tonight in your game!"
Terrific actually means a large amount OR to cause terror, yet it is used synonymously with "great."

14. Peak vs. Peek vs. Pique
"We are almost to the peak of the mountain."
"You're Christmas presents are out; don't peek."
"Read this.  I think it will pique your interest."

15. Toward vs. Towards

16. Anyway vs. Anyways
Same rule as toward vs. towards, ESPECIALLY in a formal setting.

17. Disburse vs. Disperse
Disburse means to pay out while disperse means to clear out or vanish.  

18. "A mute point"
A point is incapable of being "mute."  
Correct use: "A moot point"
Moot means subject to debate where mute means refraining from speech.

19. "All of a sudden"
Correct use: "All of the sudden"

20. "Espresso"
This is a silly one, but it's commonly and incorrectly pronounced as "expresso."  

I hope this list is helpful, refreshing, and even taught you something :).  Most of these I learned in some college grammar courses, and they are ones that resinated with me. Time to go impress someone with your newfound knowledge.