7 Everyday Words & Phrases You've Been Saying Incorrectly Your Whole Life
It feels like every single day we are making up new words in the English language. As if English wasn't already one of the hardest languages to learn, we randomly add in more words and phrases that seem to have no concrete meaning. Then, before long, these words are being changed up. Whether it's because we hear them wrong the first time (think about how many incorrect famous quotes or movie lines get shared around) and it sticks or the wrong way it simply easier, you may find that there are many words and phrases you've been saying wrong your whole life.
So, what even are these weird phrases to begin with? Referred to as idioms, these are expressions whose meaning is not necessarily a representation of the words that make it up. Similar to a cliché, they have become a part of our language that is understood for the meaning it's given. Then there are eggcorns. An eggcorn is not a type of food as it may sound, but a word or phrase that comes from a misrepresentation or mishearing of an actual word or phrase. Eggcorns sound very similar to their source and can be commonly adapted into use beside them.
It's often possible that those using the word are unaware that it isn't correct to begin with. Curious if you've been using any eggcorns all this time? Here are everyday phrases and words you've been saying incorrectly forever.
1. "A Whole Nother"
It's an easy habit to add an extra word where it doesn't belong, especially when the original word sounds so similar. "This phrase separates the term 'another' into two parts and inserts an unnecessary word 'whole', and doing so removes the need for 'an' versus 'a'," Richard Heby, Marketing Manager at Liquid Space tells Bustle. "So for some reason the extra 'n' goes to the word 'other', creating a Franken-word 'nother'. If you need to use this phrase, say instead 'a whole other."
2. "Could Of"
"The most widespread mistake that I see is people using 'could of' instead of 'could have,'" Jordan Harling, Lead Copywriter at Roman Blinds Direct, tells Bustle. "This malapropism is more common with accents where H-Dropping occurs and with people who tend to use contractions often - in this instance the contraction 'could’ve'. It sounds like a minor difference—'could’ve' vs 'could of' — and if you’re speaking fast you can often get away with it. However, if you’re not a fast speaker (or if you’re writing it down) then there is a distinct difference."
This is also true when we say "should of" and "would of," you are saying a word followed by have, not of.
As Laurie Thomas, author of Not Trivial: How Studying the Traditional Liberal Arts Can Set You Free, tells Bustle, irregardless is simply not a word. Instead you should be using the word regardless on its own.
4. "I Could Care Less"
If you really think about what you mean, the correct wording here is simple. You are stating that you in fact could not possibly care less, instead of saying that you have room to care less.
"The phrase should be 'I couldn't care less'," Heby says. "When people say 'I could care less' it implies they care, at least somewhat. Presumably when people use this phrase, they mean that they don't care. Misusing this phrase, you'd technically be saying the opposite of what you mean."
5. "Case And Point"
Copywriter Kayla Hollatz always sees people using "case and point" instead of the correct version, "case in point." Instead of separating the two words with "and" make them one action by connecting them with "in."
6. "Intensive Purposes"
Jane Solomon, lexicographer at Dictionary.com consistently notices 'intensive purposes' using this phrase instead of "intents and purposes." Keep in mind that you're saying that you have intent, not that you're intense.
7. Home In
Consistently used in place of "hone in" the idea behind this phrase is that you are narrowing down the area you are focusing on. While home in might sound right in that it's your main base, the use of hone in is correct.
I, myself, am guilty of using at least half of these and probably will continue to. There's just something about could of let rolls of the tongue like could have never will.