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.
This oldie but goodie has been screwed up since the dawn of time. In 43 B.C., Roman scholar and writer Marcus Terentius Varro coined the ruthless phrase when he compared humanity to animals, saying that even “a dog will not eat a dog.”
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.