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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pet Peeve Phrases

I have to get a few pet peeves off my chest.

It all came up a few weeks ago, watching an episode of Survivor. They were in the midst of a heated discussion at Tribal Council, and one contestant was spouting off a litany of horrible things about another contestant. She wanted to say that she was only human. She didn't.

She called herself a humanitarian. If you haven't been watching, let me reassure you that "humanitarian" is about the last word I would use to describe this particular Survivor contestant.

And I was left shaking my head, along with most of the rest of the people sitting beside her, and most of the people watching at home. This person might not recognize even today, after watching herself saying something so ridiculous on national TV, that she made a massive error with her phrasing that day.

Sadly, she's not alone. I tend to think that a lot of people don't stop to think about what they're saying, to see if it actually makes sense. I'd like to hone in on a few of them. (To my great despair, that mistake has been made so frequently for so long, that some experts are beginning to say it is acceptable. Pardon me while I shudder.) All the time I hear people saying that they could care less, or that they need to flush out the details of something. People never want to be the escape goat for these acts, but for all intensive purposes, they will have to pay the piper for their own inaccuracies.

Irregardless of the great pain it causes me to look at these phrasing errors though, I must go on. They don't just occur in speech. Finding them in print isn't a mute point. It happens all too commonly. I'm not one to sit around with baited breath, hoping that people will come to their senses and stop using these phrases that are quite beyond the pail. Nope, bringing these issues to the forefront is of the upmost importance to me. Before I get myself worked into too high a dungeon, perhaps I should move on.

Thanks for allowing me this moment to get that out of my system.

What word or phrase mistakes that people make drive you up the wall? And which ones have you been guilty of?


  1. Great post! Up here in the far north of England, I had to get used to the lingo as I noticed some phrases which just didn't sound right.

    "He got wrong" - means, he was told off.
    "I've went to the shop" - means, I went to the shop or I've been to the shop.

    I don't know why they don't use English properly!!

    CJ xx

  2. Catherine,
    This is a great post. I have to admit, I'm guilty of one of these! It irks me when people say 'I could care less'! You could? No!! You couldn't care less is what you mean!

  3. Crystal, thanks for stopping by! The various ways slang evolves in different areas of the English speaking world is a post unto itself, isn't it? LOL. I do love learning about different phrases that are used in other ares though, even when they're improper English. Thanks for sharing a few with us.

    Julie, that one is becoming such a common error, that I won't be surprised if it is considered "acceptable" by the experts at some point in our lives, much like honing in instead of homing in. I don't think it SHOULD, because the two mean the opposite thing. But it won't surprise me.

  4. Mine are:

    "discrete" when you mean "discreet"

    "My plate is full"--had a boss who said that all the time

    your and you're
    to, two, and too
    their, there, and they're

  5. Fabulous post!! Here are the two that make me cringe:

    supposebly -- with a "b," not a "d!" WHY do people think this is okay...?!

    Agreeance. Seriously. It is not a word, people.

  6. There is one word people say all the time that drives me nuts, and that word is 'no'. Unless they are responding to my question "Do these pants make me look fat?" ;)

    All kidding aside, I have to bite my tongue and not correct people when they say "He borrowed me some money." I believe it's a regional thing because I don't recall hearing this when I lived in another state.

    If everyone uses the word in this way and everyone understands the meaning, does it make it wrong? I say yes and no. Language evolves over time, and the purpose is to communicate, so at some point it might be considered grammatically correct. I doubt it, but one never knows.

  7. Sarah, discrete and discreet are a pet peeve of mine, too. Most people don't even know the meaning of discrete. *sigh*

    Coffee and a Book Chick, those are definitely cringe-worthy. At least with supposably, I can sort of see where their minds make it okay. They're turning suppose into supposable (not a word, but what are you going to do?) and then making it into an adverb. I get it. I don't like it, but I get it.

    Samantha, that "No" word is annoying, isn't it? It is particularly bad when coming frequently from the mouth of a three-year-old. Yes, language does evolve. Hence the phrase 'hone in' gradually becoming acceptable. But borrow used in that sense? I hope we never see the day when linguists and grammarians decide it is all right.