This doesn’t reflect very well on me, but I obsessively read articles about the words people commonly get wrong—for the sole purpose of feeling good about myself that I’m such a
twat master of language. (I know, right? I’m insufferable.) I’m the kind of hideous person who will correct you if you text me “your” instead of “you’re”, and I know that makes me a Grammar Nazi (although I think that’s a pretty extreme comparison) but I like it. So when I heard that I’d been guilty of one of these word-crimes myself, it came as a pretty nasty shock.
It happened a week ago. There I was, happily browsing through the depths of the HelloGiggles archives, blissfully unaware of what was about to hit me—when I found it. Slap bang in the middle of one of my favourite articles about commonly misused words. (Seriously, if you’re a word nerd like me, follow everything Tyler Vendetti writes. It’s all gold-dust.) I was using the word “nauseous” wrong. It didn’t actually mean “feeling sick” at all! All these years, I should have been saying “nauseated”! Off my high horse I fell. But unfortunately for everyone around me, this whole traumatic experience only made me sure of one thing: the internet needs one more article about words you’re using wrong.
So, here goes. These are a few more common phrases you’re all saying totally wrong (even though you didn’t actually ask me for my opinion).
Take a rain check
Look, my fellow British people, let’s just leave this one to the Americans, OK? Because we’re really hashing it up. This phrase actually means “to politely refuse an offer, with the implication that one may take it up at a later date”. It’s a baseball reference: if a game was postponed due to rain, ticket holders could take a literal “rain cheque” which entitled them to another ticket later on. British people haven’t grasped this. We seem to think it means “to wait and see”.
I could care less
OK, so everyone’s already pointed this out, but it doesn’t make it any less infuriating. The phrase is “I couldn’t care less”. If you could care less, then what you’re saying is that you care.
One in the same
Nope, nope, nope. Come on. That doesn’t even make sense! If two things are identical, they are “one and the same”. Neither of them are inside the other. Cut that out.
You’ve got another thing coming
Could you be any vaguer? What thing would that be? No—the actual phrase is “if you think that, you’ve got another think coming”. Admittedly, even the correct phrase doesn’t exactly stick to the rules of language, so I can see where the confusion arose. But it’s a centuries-old comical expression, and you can’t just change it.
Jeez. I haven’t even had my blog up for a fortnight yet, and I’m already off on long, aggressive tirades; that can’t be a good sign. I’ve just been feeling really stressed about this word thing. Ever since I read those fatal words on HelloGiggles—I’ve been feeling pretty nauseous.
Ha!, I hear you screaming, you just did it again! Well, no, because as it turns out, HelloGiggles weren’t quite right on this one. I did a bit of Googling, and “nauseous” has two meanings—so I’m in the clear. Phew.
Though let’s not mention that it turns out I’ve been using ‘spitting image’ completely wrong…
Which phrases do you hear people using totally wrong, or get wrong yourself?
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