14 phrases you’ve probably been saying incorrectly 191



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Have you ever been talking to someone, only to be corrected for a phrase you’ve used and being completely flabbergasted that you were incorrect all these years?

You’re definitely not alone! It’s quite easy to get some common sayings wrong, because English is a complex and confusing language.

Here’s a list of common phrases you might not have realised you were saying incorrectly.


1. What you say: Nip it in the butt

What you should say: Nip it in the bud

Nipping something in the bud means that you’re putting an end to it before it has a chance to start – nipping something in the butt means something else entirely!


2. What you say: I could care less

What you should say: I couldn’t care less

Saying that you could care less about a topic mean that you do care about it. What you do mean is that you don’t care about the topic at all.


3. What you say: One in the same

What you should say: One and the same

“One in the same” doesn’t really mean anything at all. “One and the same” means that two things are the same.


4. What you say: On accident

What you should say: By accident

You can do something on purpose, but not on accident. It also sounds more correct to say ‘by accident’.


5. What you say: Statue of limitations

What you should say: Statute of limitations


6. What you say: For all intensive purposes

What you should say: For all intents and purposes

7. What you say: Beckon call

What you should say: Beck and call


8. What you say: Mute point

What you should say: Moot point

A mute point would mean that it is unable to be articulated, but that’s not what this idiom should mean. A moot point is a debatable question, or one of no importance.


9. What you say: Self-depreciating

What you should say: Self-deprecating

This is more or less just a mistake in what we have read and then said. Depreciating is an economic term to indicate the value of something drops over time, whereas deprecating means to undervalue oneself.

10. What you say: Irregardless

What you should say: “Regardless

“Ir” is a prefix that negates the phrase that comes before it, which is unnecessary when “less” is already doing that.

11. What you say: Peak/peek my interest

What you should say: “Pique my interest”

We can see how this one makes sense as peak means the reach the high, but in correct English grammar, pique means to provoke or arouse.

12. What you say: Baited breath

What you should say: Bated breath

Baited breath would mean your breath is tormented, but bated is waiting in suspense.


13. What you say: Free reign

What you should say: Free rein

This is an easy mistake to make as we think free reign means to give a leader the ability to do what they want but the original phrase was derived from loosening the reins on a horse.

14. What you say: Hunger pains

What you should say: Hunger pangs

Like other phrases, the way we say it makes sense – if we’re hungry it can be painful. However, hunger pangs is the original phrase, as in the sharp jolts you feel from hunger.


Tell us, were you saying any of these incorrectly? 

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. I’d like to see an item about group singular as the upcoming generation of journalists, politicians and almost everyone else has no idea how to use group singular.
    But perhaps we over 60s aren’t the correct target audience.

  2. I must be the founding member of the grammar police … I say/use them all correctly.

    1 REPLY
    • Oh no Wendy….I am right beside you hun!! If I detect incorrect grammar I immediately stop reading….it is a question of credibility….

  3. Mine all correct too. You know what annoys me SO much…I seen that the other day it should be I saw that the other day. Its really doing my head in how many people say that. EEERRR

    11 REPLY

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