Be Impeccable: Commonly Misused Phrases That Will Make You Sound Ignorant


I remember when I went to high school there was a lot of excessive use of the word "like" among the students. I seemed to gain this habit and after a year or so my parents complained that I seemed unable to make a sentence without including the word "like" in it.
I no longer use "like" so often, but recently I ran into someone who seemed to endlessly use the word "like" and I couldn't help but find it rather funny.


The Force is Strong With This One
These are always good for a (private) laugh, but there's often a sort of logic behind them. For instance, most of the ones involving 'and' instead of 'in' are likely the result of language being passed on verbally. Elocution lessons are as scarce as hen's teeth in America, probably because no one cares about RP (Received Pronunciation - the Queen's English), so people don't enunciate well. This can lead to the assumption that a guttural 'n' means 'and'.

In the case of 'beckon call', the word 'beck' is pretty rare and few people realize it is the name for that crooked-finger gesture a person makes when they beckon someone to come closer.

I, myself, am guilty of the 'coming down the pipe' error. The logic behind that is that I had never heard the expression before coming to America, and since I arrived, I have mostly lived west of the Rockies, where there are few (if any) 'turnpikes'. When I first heard the expression, I pictured a long, thrusting weapon, and thought I must have misheard. It seemed more likely that something would be coming down a pipe than a pike.

When I was young, I was taught that 'all of a sudden' was already bad English and that there was a word for that: 'suddenly'. It tickles me that 'all of a sudden' now has a variant that is considered incorrect.

Despite my laughter, though, the reason these corrections should be made is painfully obvious when people study Shakespeare and need a language key. Will our descendants be able to understand our writings in 500 years, should humanity last that long?


The Force is Strong With This One
I forgot to mention my all-time favorite: taking someone or something for granite, instead of granted. This is said a lot in Utah, which is pretty funny when you realize that Salt Lake City is practically ringed with granite mountains. ;-)


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
I remember that when I first moved to the USA I had no clue how to spell lettuce, I used to work at a restaurant and one of my clients went: “let me have a cheeseburger with no lettuce” in my ear it sounded exactly like the word “letters” I spend a few minutes trying to find it on the computer screen “where does it say letters? And whatever does she mean by a burger with no letters? Do they mark the burger patty?...strange country this is...” :P
This is very funny! My Spanish friend used to say he wanted to eat "chicken tights" for dinner and I had to explain to him why that was so funny. It brought up images of a chicken in tights :lol:. He really meant chicken thighs.

I had a good laugh at the lists here, and learned a little too. It makes sense that people get these phrases wrong seeing as many people only use YouTube, watch movies and play video games, so they only hear a phrase instead of seeing it written. I suppose they just fill in the gaps with the words that they do know. I'm nowhere near perfect, but thank golly I read a lot of books when I was younger so I have at least a small grasp on how to use my native language!
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