Word Nerd: 5 Common English Mistakes That We Love to Hate

2 May


Last Monday, we argued about how language rules aren’t just for fools.

This week we are going to look at 5 mistakes which are common and contrary to rules of good English usage. Language rules work like traffic rules – a combination of widespread practice and good sense. But common as these 5 errors might be, they definitely do not make sense. Read on to find out what they are and how you can avoid them.

  1. I Could Care Less instead of I Couldn’t Care Less 

    Decide please. Could you care less? Could you be more care free about said situation or entity? If not, and you’ve hit your rock bottom of caring, it means that you couldn’t care less. So once you’ve made up your mind, just pick the right phrase to use. Also: I couldn’t give a damn or I give a damn. It used to be a really strong curse because of its Christian connotations. Now, though, the word is fairly run of the mill. However, we have never been able to evaluate the worth of damn. Is it worth giving or not? What do you think?

  2. Irregardless 

    Please. Just don’t. It’s regardless. When regard is already lacking, what’s the ir doing there? Just hanging about being pally? Lose it.

  3. Reply back/ Revert back/ Respond back 

    Notice that the words reply, revert and respond begin with a re-prefix. The prefix, according to dictionary definitions, is attached to words that English borrowed from Latin. It has two main meanings – one is, again and again (as in repetition), the other implies a turning back (think reverse & respond). So if a word already includes the sense of turning back, adding a back for extra measure doesn’t work, does it? If your name is Anna, and someone calls you Anna-Anna, it’s redundant (again a re- word). So, think twice before adding a back to a word that begins with a re-, and then don’t.

  4. Goes versus Says 

    We know you can be in motion and communication at the same time. Hence the mobile phone. But, it’s still not a great idea to use the verbs interchangeably. Did you really mean for Andrew to walk off when he was supposed to answer a question?Why not just use says for says? It’s the same number of characters as goes.

  5. Who versus Whom
    This is a hard one to figure for most people. The solution is simple when you remove the jargon. Who can be answered by he or she, and whom by him or her. Problem solved.

What about your own pet peeves? Or, better still, errors you can’t keep yourself from committing? Do share in the comments section!


By Skendha Singh

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