Common Phrases You’ve Probably Been Saying All Wrong

We’re all guilty of some grammar slip-ups now and then, but if you happen to be someone who frequently uses the word “irregardless” you might want to evaluate your vocabulary.

While some misused sayings are pretty obvious, there are other tricker phrases even the most seasoned grammar police have trouble with occasionally.

Sometimes it may be as simple as using the word “in” vs. “and” when making a remark.

Other times, you just didn’t hear a word correctly the first time you were introduced to a saying and since then, no one has bothered to inform you that we actually live in a “dog-eat-dog world” rather than a “doggy-dog world.”

Incorrect: I could care less
Correct: I could not care less
If you couldn’t care less, then you care so little about something that it would be impossible for you to care any less than you do. If you could care less, however, you are saying, literally, that it is possible for you to care less than you care now.

Incorrect: Giving leadway
Correct: Giving leeway
Giving leeway means to give a degree of freedom of action or thought; room for free movement within limits.

Incorrect: For all intensive purposes
Correct: For all intents and purposes
For all intents and purposes is the usual form of the phrase meaning in every practical sense. For all intensive purposes is a fairly common eggcorn derived from the original phrase. It?s often heard in speech, but it?s rare in published writing because it generally doesn?t pass through the editorial process.

Incorrect: Beckon call
Correct: Beck and call
If you are at someone’s beck and call, you respond immediately whether he or she beckons or calls; it implies complete subservience. It’s an old phrase, originating in the late 1800s, during a time when ?beck? was used to mean ?beckon.?

Incorrect: Tongue and cheek
Correct: Tongue-in-cheek
The Tongue-in-cheek figure of speech is used to imply that a statement or other production is humorously or otherwise not seriously intended, and it should not be taken at face value. The facial expression typically indicates that one is joking or making a mental effort.

Incorrect: Wreck havoc
Correct: Wreak havoc
Wreak, a rare verb most common in British English, means to bring about. So to wreak havoc is to bring about widespread destruction. Havoc may reek, and it may cause a wreck, but reek havoc and wreck havoc are nonsensical phrases. The past tense of wreak is wreaked, so the past tense of wreak havoc is wreaked havoc.

Incorrect: Scotch-free
Correct: Scot-free
To get away without suffering any punishment or injury.

Incorrect: It’s a doggy dog world
Correct: It’s a dog-eat-dog world
Used to refer to a situation of fierce competition in which people are willing to harm each other in order to succeed.

Incorrect: Nip it in the butt
Correct: Nip it in the bud
To suppress or destroy something, especially at an early stage. Also to take care of a problem in its early stages before it gets too big to manage easily

Incorrect: Take for granite
Correct: Take for granted
To fail to properly appreciate (someone or something), especially as a result of overfamiliarity. Also to assume that something is true without questioning it

Incorrect: Mute point
Correct: Moot point
A moot question or point, is one that is subject to debate, dispute, or uncertainty, and typically not admitting of a final decision
The word mute means “silent; refraining from speech or utterance,” and the pairing mute point has no canonized meaning in standard English

Incorrect: Statue of limitations
Correct: Statute of limitations
Statutes of limitations are laws passed by a legislative body in common law systems to set the maximum time after an event when legal proceedings may be initiated. When the period of time specified in a statute of limitations passes, a claim can no longer be filed.

Incorrect: Fall by the waste side
Correct: Fall by the wayside
To fall by the wayside, means to fail to persist in an endeavor or undertaking.

Incorrect: Irregardless
Correct: Regardless

Incorrect: Escape goat
Correct: Scapegoat
A scapegoat is a person or group that is made to bear blame for others.

Incorrect: Hunger pains
Correct: Hunger pangs
A pang is either an emotional longing or a sharp, physical pain.

Incorrect: Extract revenge
Correct: Exact revenge
the phrase “to exact revenge” means to avenge oneself

Incorrect: On tender hooks
Correct: On tenterhooks
To be “on tenterhooks” means to be in a state of suspense, tension, uneasiness or agitation because of uncertainty about a future event.

Incorrect: Give free reign
Correct: Give free rein
To give somebody or something free rein, is to allow someone or something complete freedom

Incorrect: One in the same
Correct: One and the same
One and the same is the logical formulation of the expression meaning the same person or thing. This expression is not hard to parse; it uses redundancy (one and the same being synonyms) for emphasis.


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