"I could care less" and "I could literally eat a horse" are two of the most commonly misused phrases in the English language. While you may or may not be using them correctly, chances are you hear phrases being misused all the time — and it's probably one of your biggest pet peeves! Let's look at 17 of the most commonly misused phrases and learn the proper way to say them. We won't tell anyone if you forward it to a few people you may know.
“It's a doggy-dog world.„
Correct way to say it: It's a dog-eat-dog world.
Meaning: There's no such thing as a "doggy-dog" world. The expression goes all the way back to 43 B.C. when Roman scholar and writer Marcus Terentius Varro (comparing principles of humanity to that of animals) stated that even "a dog will not eat dog." A "dog-eat-dog" world is defined as ruthless behavior to get what you want... so look out.
“For all intensive purposes... „
Correct way to say it: For all intents and purposes…
Meaning: "Intensive" means your purpose is intense. "Intents and purposes" means practical.
“I'm suppose to go grocery shopping today.„
Correct way to say it: I'm supposed to go grocery shopping today.
Meaning: "Suppose to" is grammatically incorrect. Don't forget to add a "d" to the end.
“The baby literally screamed all night.„
Correct way to say it: The baby screamed for half the night.
Meaning: "Literally" implies that it's true. Don't say "literally" unless it's a fact!
“the toddler spilled his milk on accident.„
Correct way to say it: The toddler spilled his milk by accident.
Meaning: Most people say "on" instead of "by." Surprisingly, "by" is grammatically correct.
“A mute point.„
Correct way to say it: A moot point.
Meaning: "Mute" means unable to speak; "moot" means irrelevant or obsolete discussion.
“I nipped that problem
in the butt!„
Correct way to say it: I nipped that problem in the bud!
Meaning: If you nip a plant in the "bud," you are preventing it from flowering. You simply can't nip problems in the "butt."
“I ate too much today. Case and point, I ate out four times.„
Correct way to say it: I ate too much today. Case in point, I ate out four times.
Meaning: "Case and point" is not a phrase. Instead, use "case in point."
“Head towards the door and you'll see me.„
Correct way to say it: Head toward the door and you'll see me.
Meaning: Toward never has an "s" at the end. Neither does "anyway." Keep in mind that "towards" is acceptable and correct in countries outside the U.S.
“I should of worked out instead of taking a nap.„
Correct way to say it: I should have worked out instead of taking a nap.
Meaning: "Should of" is never proper grammar. It's always "should have" or "should've." The same goes for "would have," "could have," etc.
“Irregardless of how
the interview goes,
I'm proud of you.„
Correct way to say it: Regardless of how the interview goes, I'm proud of you.
Meaning: Regardless means "no matter what" or "in spite of everything." Irregardless is not a proper word — plain and simple.
“He was at my beckon call while I was sick.„
Correct way to say it: He was at my beck and call while I was sick.
Meaning: "Beck and call" means being made available, ready to obey. "Beckon call" is not correct usage of the English language.
“She hadn't eaten all day, making her hunger pains unbearable.„
Correct way to say it: She hadn't eaten all day, making her hunger pangs unbearable.
Meaning: Hunger "pains" do not exist; hunger "pangs" do. This is by far one of the most misused phrases of all.
“You have another
Correct way to say it: You have another think coming!
Meaning: It's "think," not "thing." The phrase implies you have another thought (or think) coming. Over time, "think" became "thing," which is simply incorrect.
“The weather will wreck havoc on our picnic.„
Correct way to say it: The weather will wreak havoc on our picnic.
Meaning: To "wreck havoc" means destroying chaos and adding more chaos — it just doesn't make sense. To "wreak havoc" means to cause chaos.
“Yoko ono is a famous escape goat, often blamed for the breakup of the Beatles.„
Correct way to say it: Yoko Ono is a famous scapegoat, often blamed for the breakup of the Beatles.
Meaning: A "scapegoat" is someone who gets blamed (possibly erroneously) for the actions of others. An escape goat is a goat that has escaped. Use it correctly!
“I could care less.„
Correct way to say it: I couldn't care less.
Meaning: If you "could care less," then you care and are capable of caring less. Make sure to keep it negative — meaning you don't care and couldn't care any less.
More common mistakes people make
The opinions expressed in this article are of the author and the author alone. They do not reflect the opinions of SheKnows, LLC or any of its affiliates and they have not been reviewed by an expert in a related field or any member of the SheKnows editorial staff for accuracy, balance or objectivity. Content and other information presented on the Site are not a substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on SheKnows. SheKnows does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.