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…Misuse Common Phrases (and show their ignorance)

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I’m going to step on some toes here. I couldn’t care less. Here’s why. Words matter! Even when we’re merely using common phrases or idiomatic nuggets, friends don’t let friends use them incorrectly! GAH!

For instance, when we’re not careful about how much we care, we might say (erroneously) “I could care less!” This means that the level of care hasn’t reached its nadir yet; but obviously what we mean to say is, “this is it! I don’t give a hoot anymore !!”– i.e., “I couldn’t care less!” which means, I could not possibly care any less than I already don’t care.” (see opening lines)

When we want to describe an unexpected or unusually quick event, we have some options. None of those options include this: “all of the sudden…” No, no, no. See, the parts of speech really help us figure these things out. (Yes, I’m an English teacher, and I’m here to, you know, HELP). The word sudden is an adjective. Adjectives are modifiers. Adjectives modify (describe) nouns and pronouns. Since a noun is a person, place or thing, and since ‘a’ ‘an’ and ‘the’ (the articles) also function as adjectives, well, ‘all of the sudden’ just can’t work, because ‘the’ points the way to a noun, and remember, ‘sudden’ is an adjective. Instead of saying it all wrong, try the accepted (correct) way of saying something happened that was completely unexpected this way: “Suddenly, the car swerved into my lane…” or “All of a sudden, the car swerved…” (oooops! can’t do that either, can we? Though it does sound right.) Just remember, never, under any circumstances, say “all of the sudden…”

Unless everybody needs to shut up and never speak of the point again, (making everyone ‘mute’) remember that the irrelevant point is a MOOT one.

When you oversleep, or your alarm doesn’t go off when it’s supposed to, spare your boss the lame explanations concerning your tardiness to the office. Spare the boss some poorly expressed honesty too. See, you didn’t oversleep ‘on accident.’ For Pete’s sake — you overslept ‘accidentally.’ Or, your alarm was set, by accident, for 6:30 p.m. instead of the more appropriate a.m.

And, when all the practical matters have been covered, it’s appropriate to claim that, ‘for all intents and purposes,’ the conversation has concluded. I don’t know what in the HELL “intensive purposes are,” but I do know I rather intensely despise the misuse of the phrase.

See, friends don’t let friends misuse common phrases. Showing our ignorance is no way to win friends and influence people. If I weren’t careful, I’d close this post with something pithy like, ‘it’s a doggy-dog world out there!’  or ‘I’ve nipped this problem right in the butt!’  But then I’d need a friend who won’t let me misuse common phrases and show my ignorance.

Because, really.  Ignorance of this magnitude just can’t be tolerated.


About beckyfields

Learner. Teacher. Reader. Writer. Contemplating 'life changes' -- one common chapter at a time.

8 responses »

  1. I’ve been thinking this for years! Thank you for finally saying it!

  2. Maybe I should hire you to proofread my blog posts! 🙂

  3. I especially hate “a whole nother”. It makes me want to scream!

    • oh, noooooo. I forgot about that one. seriously terrible. of course, I read through this post early this morning, and realized that I’d made a ‘duh! are you kidding me?!?!’ error (fixed now)… Apparently, there’s really no end to the ways we can flub up words. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by & reading!

  4. Thank you for this. I have a “friend” who went through life thinking “cole slaw” was “cold slaw”; however, I won’t name any names…


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