Let's face it: English is a weird language, and it's hard to learn all of the rules.
It's tough to speak with perfect grammar all of the time, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
Check out this list of 30 common mistakes for words and phrases, and become a deputy chief of the Grammar Police!
1. I could care less vs. I couldn't care less
This is a super common one, but if you "could care less," it means you care at least a tiny bit. If you "couldn't care less," then you don't.
2. Anyways vs. Anyway
Anyways isn't really a word, so make sure you're not throwing that 's' on at the end.
3. Nip it in the butt vs. Nip it in the bud
Nipping something in the butt pretty much means biting someone's butt, which isn't a great idea. Nipping something in the bud, however, means getting rid of it before it grows bigger. Think of it like nipping buds or leaves off of plants. Same idea.
4. Mute point vs. Moot point
Something that is mute doesn't have volume, while something that is moot is irrelevant to the big picture.
5. One in the same vs. One and the same
To say that two things are just alike, you need to say that they are "one AND the same," because the other implies that something is inside of something else, which just doesn't make sense.
6. Near miss vs. Near hit
If you narrowly avoid getting into a car accident, it was a near hit, because you came oh-so-close to colliding. If it was a "near miss," it means you did, in fact, hit them.
7. Statue of limitations vs. Statute of limitations
A statute is a rule or a law, while a statue is a form of art. While there are probably some artists who have created statues about the limitations of humankind or something like that, a statute of limitations is the amount of time during which legal action can be brought against someone for an alleged wrongdoing.
8. Baited breath vs. Bated breath
The phrase "bated breath" means to wait anxiously, while "baited breath" might apply to smelling like worms? Gross.
9. On accident vs. By accident
The easiest way to remember this one is that you do things "on purpose" but "by accident." Nitpicky, yes, but there's no harm in just saying it the correct way.
10. Another thing coming vs. Another think coming
This one is actually up for debate, because the "incorrect" version has been used so widely that many grammar experts believe it's now a correct version. But for all the grammar hipsters out there, the original phrase was "another think coming" because it comes from constructions like:
"If you think I'm going to give you a piece of my bacon, you've got another think coming!"
Yes, it sounds super folksy, but it is technically correct.
11. For all intensive purposes vs. For all intents and purposes
Intensive means highly focused, while intent has to do with someone's intention or motivation. While you can have a purpose that has to do with something intensive, make sure to use "for all intents and purposes" when you're referring to the general features of something.
12. Peak my interest vs. Pique my interest
A peak is the highest point of something, while pique means to stimulate something, which, in this case, is your interest or curiosity.
13. I'm doing good vs. I'm doing well
Toofer: "I'm doing good."
Tracy: "Uh-uh. Superman does good. You're doing well. You need to study your grammar, son."
14. Escape goat vs. Scapegoat
A scapegoat is something or someone who takes the blame. It's not clear what an "escape goat" is, but it sounds kind of awesome.
15. Extract revenge vs. Exact revenge
If you "extract revenge," it means that you take the revenge out of something. If you want to get somebody back for wronging you, you'll want to "exact revenge." (Although, there's a lot to be said for taking the high road and extracting revenge, too!)
16. Self-depreciating vs. Self-deprecating
Things that depreciate lose value over time, like a car. Deprecating, on the other hand, means talking badly about. Many stand-up comedians have a self-deprecating humor, meaning they make jokes at their own expense.
17. Old timer's disease vs. Alzheimer's disease
This one is mostly said as a joke, but just for posterity: "Old timer's disease" isn't real.
18. Fall by the wasteside vs. Fall by the wayside
The word "wayside" refers to the side of the road, while "wasteside" isn't a word at all. If you decide not to bother with something anymore, you let it fall by the wayside, kind of like abandoning it on the side of the road while you continue on.
19. A whole nother vs. A whole other
If you want to talk about something that is different from what you're currently discussing, you would say "a whole other" or "another." Saying "a whole nother" is totally incorrect.
20. I seen vs. I saw
The rules of grammar tell us that it's either "I have seen" or "I saw."
21. Guyses vs. Guys
If you're addressing a group of people informally, it's perfectly fine to collectively say "guys." The word is already plural, but there's no graceful way to make it plural and possessive, so it's best to avoid it altogether.
22. Honing in vs. Homing in
To hone something means to sharpen something or refine a skill, but to "home in" on something is to get closer to its location.
23. Expresso vs. Espresso
There's no 'x' in espresso, which is a special way to brew coffee.
24. Phase vs. Faze
"Phase" is definitely a word to describe a certain period of time, like, "I went through an *NSYNC phase in middle school like you wouldn't believe." But, if you talk about someone being unaffected by something, you would say it "didn't faze him."
25. Momento vs. Memento
"Momento" is a Spanish word meaning "moment" or "time." A "memento" is a souvenir you keep from a special trip or occasion.
26. In the feeble position vs. In the fetal position
A fetus in the womb typically always has his or her legs drawn up to the chest, sort of making a ball shape. Being "in the fetal position" is to do the same thing. People who are weak are "feeble" so the incorrect version could almost make sense, but it isn't correct.
27. Irregardless vs. Regardless
The word "regardless" means that something will happen without consideration for anything else. "Irregardless" is a double negative in one word, and shouldn't be used.
28. Scotch free vs. Scot free
There are a lot of conflicting stories about how this phrase came to be, so it might just be easier to commit it to memory that it is "scot free." "Scotch free" makes it sound like there's complimentary whisky somewhere, or that you don't have to pay for tape.
29. Conversate vs. Converse
"Conversation" is the noun, but the verb is "converse," not "conversate."
30. Guide for there/they're/their, your/you're/yore, and to/two/too
[Header image credit: mangostock/iStock]
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