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Common misunderstandings every writer should know

Posted by Wendy Wood on 30th March , 2022 in Grammar
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We first learn language by listening to others. So, it’s understandable that when those others have learned an incorrect version of a word or phrase, they’ll pass that version to the next generation, and the next generation will pass it down to the next generation, and so on, and so on. Here are a few words and phrases people struggle with.

Could care less – couldn’t care less
My husband always says he could care less, but he chooses not to. Because language is always changing, “could care less” is becoming acceptable, but the traditional idiom is “couldn’t care less”.

Irregardless – regardless
My theory is the confusion with these words came about from people mashing together the words irrespective and regardless. The ir- is a completely unnecessary prefix. Irregardless is gaining traction – it actually has a listing in Macquarie Dictionary – but it’s generally not considered standard English.

Nipped in the butt – nipped in the bud
I mean, being nipped in the butt by a dog would probably stop you in your tracks. But the proper phrase is “nipped in the bud”. It means to stop something immediately so that it doesn’t become a worse problem.

It doesn’t phase me – it doesn’t faze me
A phase has to do with periods of time or stages of something. Faze, however, means to disturb or bother the composure of someone. So, if you’re trying to say someone or something isn’t bothering you, the correct idiom is “it doesn’t faze me”.

There are many more words and phrases said and written incorrectly. Perhaps they are fodder for future Super Grammars.

Wendy Wood


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