Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Grammar Lessons, part 2 of 4

Welcome back! Today's voyage takes us into the realm of Problem-Child Phrases. These are words or groups of words used in a completely backward manner. It often includes additions, substitutions or eliminations of letters and prefixes which don't belong to the word in the first place.

Even I fall victim to this one with the phrase I could care less. It's one that I'll use and then kick myself for using because I realize it was incorrectly used. I'll give you the common, incorrect usage and then the correct form with some additional info. Without further delay, here are some of my "favorite" Problem-Child Phrases:

I could care less - should be I couldn't care less. Otherwise you are saying that you really COULD care less than you do - and most often, this expression is used to convey that there was NO LESS amount of caring available. Always remember to add the negative (contraction of could not) when you're using this statement.

Suppose to - should be supposed to. Never forget the d at the end - this is typically an after thought - you were supposed to take out the trash, I was supposed to do the laundry. Often letters get dropped from words because we don't enunciate clearly when we're speaking, it's easy to see how the d was dropped from this word. However, it's a reference to past tense, something that already happened so it requires the use of a d (ed) at the end of the word. For example you wouldn't say "the doctor treat the patient" but would instead say "the doctor treated the patient."

Use to - same as supposed to above - always make sure you're using it as "used" to.  I use to wash my clothes on Sunday vs. I used to wash my clothes on Sunday.

Towards - should be toward. S is added incorrectly. S is typically used to denote plural (more than one) or possessive (belonging to). In this case, because toward is not something that "owns" something else, and is it not plural, the S should be left off. Correct examples of adding an s would be The duck's feathers.

Anyways - again - no S needed - like toward shown in the examples above. Anyway is only one thing and it doesn't own anything.

Irregardless - should be regardless. The prefix "ir" means isn't or didn't. The suffix less means without. What you're actually doing is using a double negative. Essentially, you've canceled your own thought in one simple word! 

All woks of life - should be all walks of life. I haven't seen this one in a LONG time. Probably another issue of speech dropping sounds, or phonetic spelling. The funniest reasoning for correct usage of this one that I'd ever seen was "This phrase does not apply to oriental cooking."

Chester drawers - it's Chest of drawers - as in a dresser, armoire etc. Take the phrase apart to it's literal translation - it's a chest (think trunk or cedar chest) which has drawers in it.

For all intensive purposes - should be for all intents and purposes. Intensive is how something is done, not why. Certainly, you can have INTENSE purpose, but not in this context.

Take for granite - should be take for granted. It's a feeling, not a rock folks.

Shouldn't of - should be shouldn't have. Next time you hear this one ask, "you shouldn't of what?" and see how that changes the way it sounds to you.

And my all time personal pet peeve in this category?

I seen that - should be I saw that. Please people. For the love of the language, please dump this one from your vocabulary. If you use any of the others I'll let it slide, but this one will get me every time. I often reply, "you seen what?" when someone says this.

For an eye-opener - check out the 100 Most Often Mispronounced Words and Phrases in English from

So until next Friday, happy grammar to you all!

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