If you are an English major or just a self-proclaimed grammar nazi (I am both), there are some words and phrases that are so commonly misused that you just want to scream…well, I do, anyway. Here are some of them that drive me nuts:
“Supposably” — no, no. NO! It is “supposedly.”
“Foilage” — we in the Northeast hear this a lot from “leaf peepers.” It is “foliage.” Sheesh.
“Flustrated” — nope; you are either FRUSTRATED or FLUSTERED. Not both. (Yes, I do know that this is commonly accepted–it doesn’t mean I approve of it!)
“Vice-a versa” — ah, no. It is “vice versa,” Latin for “the position being reversed.”
“Jewlery” — Nope; it’s “jewelry”; pronounced “JEW-el-ree.”
“Relator” — There is no such word. It is “realtor,” pronounced “REEL-tor.”
“Loose” and “lose” — “Loose” means “not tight,” as in “My belt is too loose.” “Lose” means to misplace something, as in “Be careful that you don’t lose your wallet.”
“Anyways” — no; it’s “anyway.” There is no such word as “anyways.”
“Alright” — this has become so common that hardly anyone knows that it should two words; “all right.”
“Desert” is a dry sandy area where nothing grows; a barren and uninhabited place. “Dessert” is a confection you have after dinner. Oh, and by the way, if someone gets what’s coming to them, then they are getting their “just deserts; ” an older meaning of the word is “what one deserves.” (If they were getting “just desserts,” that wouldn’t be much of a punishment, now would it?)
“Utilize” and “use:” My ex-husband used to say “I have to utilize the bathroom.” That’s just overblown puffery for “use,” and in his case, using a three-syllable word did not make him sound any brighter.
“Degree of difficulticity:” I heard this gem from a waiter who asked a golfer if the 9th hole had an “acceptable degree of difficulticity,” meaning (I guess), “was that hole tough enough for ya?” Good grief!
“It’s” and “its”: You can easily avoid this confusion when you write by using this simple method: if you use “it’s,” this is an abbreviation for “it is.” If you are, say, describing a cat washing its tail, then “its” is correct; you are NOT saying “the cat is washing IT IS tail.”
“Tooken” – Believe it or not, I have heard this more than you would believe–used as the past tense of “take,” as in “I wanna be tooken care of!”
Then there are these examples of mistaken usage:
“I’m all PTSD about buying these shoes!” This means (I think) that the person is saying that they are either confused or overwhelmed about buying a particularly expensive or wildly inappropriate pair of shoes. If that’s the case, then it would be proper to say something like this: “I love these shoes, but don’t know if I’ll wear them enough to justify the cost!”
“Oh! That’s so mental!” This was said ENDLESSLY when I was a student teacher for a seventh grade English class. If I had a dime for every time I rolled my eyes over this I could have bought the entire school, including the brand-new gym, parking lot and every vehicle in it. At the time, the current expression for anything that upset, irritated, scared or mystified some kid, they assigned the word “mental” to it….that word still gives me a headache.
….and my least favorite of all time, the horrible misuse of the innocent word, “like.” If I were teaching English today, on the first day of school I would warn my students verbally and in writing (to their parents) the following:
“Any student who habitually misuses the word “like” will be summarily expelled from my class and will not receive a passing grade. Some examples of such misuse follow:
‘He’s, like, just the cutest boy, like, EVER!’
‘So, like, I go up to her, like all casual-like, and then I, like, ask her out on, like, a date, and she’s all, like, offended, like!’
*’If I break a law, do I, like, go to jail?’
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!”
*As the word “like” is often used in the same way as “as if,” the answer to this last would be “No, you wouldn’t LIKE go to jail, you really WOULD go to jail!”