Infographic: 8 Common Phrases that You May Be Getting Wrong

The only part of English that is more difficult and problematic than spelling is the proper use of vernacular phrases.

Thanks to the many words in the English language that sound like each other but have different spelling and meaning, it is really easy to get a common phrase wrong by replacing the right word with its homonym. 

 common phrases that I have seen people misuse.

Edit: I have updated the infographic to replace "begging the question" with "baited breath". The second term makes for a more coherent graphic.

On a related note, this is my first homemade infographic.

Infographic: 8 Common Phrases that You May Be Getting Wrong Infographic

About Nate Hoffelder (9910 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

25 Comments on Infographic: 8 Common Phrases that You May Be Getting Wrong

  1. You left out my favorite: You can’t have your cake and eat it too.
    Yes, I can have my cake, and yes, I can eat it.
    What you cannot do is eat your cake and have it, too.

    Good article!

  2. “baited breath” when it should be “bated breath”.

  3. Yes, there is also the lost cause of “I could care less,” which once upon a time was “I couldn’t care less.”

  4. “The far-reaching influence of the 39 Articles in Protestant faith cannot be underestimated. ”

    Where /perhaps/ “must not be underestimated” was being groped towards.

  5. “Begging the question” is an interesting one. It’s probably used incorrectly about 100 times as often as it’s used correctly. And if you use it in the classically correct sense, most audiences will have no idea what you’re saying. So arguably the “incorrect” meaning is becoming the correct one.

    • You’re absolutely right how often it is misused. And since meaning shifts with usage, we can’t actually say that everyone is wrong.

      I just can’t let this one go.

      • Yep. English is a living language so predominant modern usage is *always* correct.

        Were this French, you’d have a point. But it’s not, so you don’t

    • Just to add, I think a lot of people use “begs the question” when they really mean “prompts the question,” which I’m not sure is related to logical fallacies. It’s more like this information or conversation prompts this new question.

      Cool infographic Nate!

  6. “Nonplussed” is a word that pretty much has opposite meanings depending on which country you’re in. (English v. American)

  7. Personally, I like Joey Tribiani’s version of #5 better: “It’s a moo point … it’s like a cow’s opinion … it doesn’t matter … it’s moo”

  8. Then there’s the phrase “Don’t like this a little bit”. It’s peculiar to Philadelphia (of course, LOTS of things are a bit peculiar in Philadelphia).

    What they mean is that they don’t like this EVEN a little bit.

  9. I updated the post and swapped out the begging entry for “baited breath”.

  10. Technically, those aren’t mondegreens because they didn’t arise from misheard song lyrics or poetry readings or some other vocal performance. The good folks over at the Language Log coined the term “egg corns” for this type of phrasing. See the original entry for egg corns (from nearly 15 years go!):

  11. Not sure what the rules are here, but here’s the one that grates on me:

    exact same

    Thanks for the list.

  12. More common than “reigned in” is “free reign.” I see it regularly in books from major publishers these days, and it’s pretty much driven free rein from the Interwebs.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: