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17 Common phrases you never knew you were saying all wrong

Bethany Ramos is an editor, blogger, and chick lit author. Bethany works as Editor in Chief for Naturally Healthy Publications.

#1/19:

Are you saying it wrong?

Mike Kemp/Blend Images/Getty Images
#1/19:

Are you saying it wrong?

There’s nothing more embarrassing than walking around with toilet paper stuck to your shoe — and no one has the heart to tell you. The same could be said about mispronouncing some of the most commonly used phrases in the English language, which also happen to be the easiest to misunderstand.

Unless you consider yourself a Grammar Nazi, odds are that you have flubbed up at least one of the phrases on this list. But before the burning humiliation sets in, take heart. You’re definitely not the first person who’s had a hard time mastering the intricacies of the spoken (or written) word. In his 2014 book The Sense of Style, Harvard cognitive scientist and linguist Steven Pinker explored this subject even further and found that most of us are making at least a few grammatical mistakes, most often seen in the misuse of a common word or phrase.

If you’ve been saying it all wrong for decades or even years, let’s call it an honest mistake. And let these helpful grammar do’s and don’ts point you in the right direction.

#3/19:

For all intents and purposes.

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#3/19:

For all intents and purposes.

Say this phrase a few times fast, and you can see where the confusion lies. But it still doesn’t change the fact that “intensive,” signifying a purpose that is intense, is just plain wrong.

#4/19:

I’m supposed to.

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#4/19:

I’m supposed to.

As we’ve learned many times before, adding one little letter — in this case, a “d” — makes a world of difference.

#5/19:

The baby screamed for half the night.

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#5/19:

The baby screamed for half the night.

There is literally no other way to say this: Don’t use the word “literally” unless you are talking about a fact.

#6/19:

He spilled his milk by accident.

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#6/19:

He spilled his milk by accident.

This is an easy slipup to make, so don’t get too down on yourself. “By” is the grammatically correct preposition to use with “accident,” not “on.”

#7/19:

It’s a moot point.

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#7/19:

It’s a moot point.

“Mute” means unable to talk, while “moot” means irrelevant or obsolete. Case closed.

#8/19:

I nipped that problem in the bud!

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#8/19:

I nipped that problem in the bud!

This phrase comes about from nipping a plant in its bud to prevent it from flowering. Let’s leave the “butts” out of it, shall we?

#9/19:

Case in point

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#9/19:

Case in point

Correcting this grammar gaffe is easy — “case and point” is not an expression. It’s just not.

#10/19:

Toward

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#10/19:

Toward

Ah, another grammar sin that feels so right it can’t be wrong. Nonetheless, don’t ever add an “s” to the end of “toward” or “anyway.” You’re welcome.

#11/19:

Should have

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#11/19:

Should have

You are likely to mess this one up if you are writing or speaking quickly, but still — it’s “should have” or “should’ve.” And yes, “would have” and “could have” count too.

#12/19:

Regardless

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#12/19:

Regardless

As fun as it is to say, “irregardless” is not a thing.

#13/19:

Beck and call

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#13/19:

Beck and call

Yet another common phrase that does not exist in the English language — it’s in your best interest to wipe “beckon call” from your vocabulary forever.

#14/19:

Hunger pangs

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#14/19:

Hunger pangs

It may get quite painful when you get hangry before lunch, but “hunger pangs” is still the correct usage of the phrase.

#15/19:

You have another think coming!

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#15/19:

You have another think coming!

“Thing” has replaced “think” in this expression over time, totally confusing its meaning. “You have another think coming” actually means that you have another thought coming your way.

#16/19:

Wreak havoc

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#16/19:

Wreak havoc

In this case, “wreck havoc” is a bit too redundant, implying adding chaos to more chaos. “Wreak havoc” is the proper usage that means causing damage or destruction.

#17/19:

Scapegoat

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#17/19:

Scapegoat

Blame all your problems on a scapegoat, but don’t forget — an escape goat is the goat that got away.

#18/19:

I couldn’t care less.

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#18/19:

I couldn’t care less.

This mispronunciation is perhaps the most common of all because it requires a little extra thought to get it right. The intention of the phrase should always be negative: When you “could not care less,” it means you’re really, really fed up... which is how you might feel if people spell these common words incorrectly

#19/19:

Commonly misused phrases

Karen Cox/SheKnows
#19/19:

Commonly misused phrases

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