Look it Up for Yourself

It pains me to have to write a blog post like this for leaders of organizations, but I came across three e-mails recently that let me know that this must be said.

Do you remember back when you were little—before you could read? You’d expand your vocabulary by listening to others. So by the time you could read, words like “chaos” struck you by surprise because you had only heard it—not seen it.

Well, the same type of mix up is affecting some adults who use popular phrases. It’s apparent that these people are mishearing phrases and typing them accordingly.

Some of the most common mistakes for phrases that I come across:

  • “I could care less if you do it or not.”
    The phrase should be I could NOT care less. Basically, you don’t care one way or another.
  • “I was literally drowning in my work.”
    Literally means it actually happened. This sentence would only be true if you worked in the nautical field. “Figuratively” is the word you’re looking for, but it doesn’t flow off the tongue as easily.
  • “I should of known.”
    This is what happens when too many people use the colloquialism “shoulda”. It’s should HAVE known.

Some of the most common mistakes for words that I come across:

  • Supposibly (it’s supposedly).
  • Irregardless (I don’t know why people add the “ir” as a prefix. The word is regardless.)
  • Per say (it’s per se).

And the list goes on.

If you’re unsure about whether the word or phrase you want to use is correct, look it up! Don’t go by what you hear and how you hear people say it. You don’t want a preventable mistake to cost you years of credibility.

I say this from personal experience. I didn’t lose credibility because I was only eight years old, but it took just one embarrassing mix-up with the word “gun ho” instead of “gung ho” to teach me to read it before I say it.

What mistakes do you commonly encounter or make yourself?

Hope Boyd
Written by:
Hope Boyd
Director of Communications, Strategic Government Resources

4 responses

  1. Irregardless….yes indeed
    How about “Pacific” instead of “Specific”
    Bravo! Great read. My employer just recently sponsored a volunteer grammar boot camp and brought in a newspaper editor to talk about grammar and effective writing. It was a great experience.

    1. Yes! Pacific and specific are a common mistake too. It’s crazy to think that something meant to be exact is often confused for an ocean. HAHA! Great input, Enna.

  2. I love this blog. Always something useful, practical, and relevant. Thank you for such great content. I always find something worth sharing here.

    1. And thank YOU for reading and contributing your much needed added points. 🙂

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