33 Common Words & Phrases You Might Be Saying Wrong


This infographic is courtesy of Jennifer Frost of GrammarCheck. Visit them online at grammarcheck.net or check out the free online grammar checker at grammarcheck.net/editor for proofreading help. 

Baihley Grandison is the assistant editor of Writer’s Digest and a freelance writer. Follow her on Twitter @baihleyg, where she mostly tweets about writing (Team Oxford Comma!), food (HUMMUS FOR PRESIDENT, PEOPLE), and Random Conversations With Her Mother.

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23 thoughts on “33 Common Words & Phrases You Might Be Saying Wrong

  1. JohnA

    ‘Should of’ is not proper. Actually, nor is ‘should have is proper’; if not ‘proper usage’, then correct is preferred to proper.

    Toward/Afterward/Anyway. ‘S’ is often on the end of anyway in U.S. usage, but is correctly added to toward(s) and afterward(s) in British English.

    Farther/Further. Again, in British English, they are interchangeable when referring to distance, with further probably used more often than farther.

    i.e. in fact translates as ‘that is to say’, and interprets as ‘that is’.

    The could care less vs couldn’t care less confusion has long intrigued me, because despite a little logical thought evidencing the obvious, there are best-selling American authors, household names, who consistently use the wrong phrase.

    Affect/Effect: effect is also a verb, when effecting the use of something to good effect.

    Probably the most oft misused words, however, are compliment(ary)/complement(ary).

  2. Hbomb321

    Now, I could be wrong, but don’t you mean “words and phrases you might be saying incorrectly”?
    Additionally, you might want to say “using” instead of “saying” since many of the pronunciations are identical.
    Just saying…

  3. Dreams2Paper

    I read them all, hoping to find at least one that I was using wrong. No luck. I guess that comes with reading a lot and my parents correcting me at a very young age.

  4. carmap

    I did some research a while back regarding toward vs. towards … I discovered that it is an American vs. British English convention. American English uses toward and British English uses towards (or the reverse, I can’t remember).

    1. jannertfol

      You are correct. I checked the Webster’s AND the Oxford English for toward/towards and afterward/afterwards. Both are British/American differences. The first usage in the Oxford is ‘towards’ and ‘afterwards.’ The first usage in the Webster’s is ‘toward’ and ‘afterward,’ although the ‘s’ ending is also listed as an alternative.

      ‘Anyways’ is not correct in either dictionary.

  5. mjhooper

    You left off the constant use of ‘may’ for ‘might.’ Talk about irritating. They are not interchangeable, but most people (on radio at least) think the first is a substitute for the second.

    Then there’s the word “So”. How come so many people use it to start a paragraph and some use it to start every sentence. AAArrrgghhhh!

    1. SomeDay

      I agree SO totally! But my biggest pet peeve is the ubiquitous use of “wait on” for “wait for”! Walmart’s credit card reader uses it!!! And even Fraser Crane has used it–which absolutely NEVER would have happened!!! (Kelsey Grammer where were you on that? You should definitely have corrected your writers!) Can our TV writers please get this right and become good examples for our language learners????

      The other huge peeve is using “momentarily” to mean “in a moment” or “shortly.” No, friends, I will stop my diatribe here momentarily to say “thank you” to those who use it properly. The misuse drives me crazy!!! LOL

      1. SomeDay

        Of course, if you’re purposely writing a CHARACTER who misuses all these phrases, then go right ahead and write further. What did Aristotle say about teaching the good by showing the evil??? (On that note, we should be learning an awful lot about good these days!)

    1. Baihley GrandisonBaihley Grandison Post author

      Very true; there are, to be sure, usages that are “technically” correct, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that colloquially some words/meanings have become accepted too, apart from the rules.


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