“I could care less!” How many times each day do we hear someone say this? There are a great deal of mispronunciations or misuses of words that exist that it’s almost as if the correct way has been long obscured by the constant misuse by the majority of people. One of the greatest misused expressions is
“I could care less”. Every day, someone, somewhere, tells us that they could care less about something.
Well, if they could care less, then they are actually telling us that there is less caring they could actually do. What they are really trying to say is that they “couldn’t care less” about someone or something. Could care less is actually the opposite of what they mean. We often hear someone say, “I am going to lay down.” But that’s impossible. “Lay” means to “put or place” as in “Lay your clothes out to dry”. “Lie” on the other hand means to “rest or recline; rest;
resting.” For instance, your mother may have said to you, “Lay the forks and knives on the table while I go and lie down”. Forks and knives are “placed” are the table. Your mother “rest or reclines” when she goes to lie down. And regardless of what you’ve been told, irregardless is not a word. It does not exist.
Yet, some feel the overwhelming need to add the prefix “ir” to “regardless”, when regardless already means “without regard”. What’s more, it has been a while since people were sentenced to death by hanging. If someone were to
unfortunately hang themselves, we hear some say that someone hung themselves. Only a thing can be hung- such as a picture or plaque. But only a person can be “hanged”. You may hear someone say that they snuck around. Snuck sounds like the past-tense of sneak. The problem is there is no such word as snuck. Instead, the past-tense of sneak is “sneaking”. And if that
person were to be sneaking around somewhere, they most definitely don’t want to “stamp” their feet while doing so. However, they may tell you not to stomp your feet. That probably hurts, as stomping sounds serious. In reality, there is no such word. You cannot stomp, you can only “stamp”.
Some folks will tell you they suffer with something, when they are really trying to say that they “suffer from” something. They also say they are going further when they should say they’re going “farther”. They imply when they mean to “infer” and they attempt to insure you of something when they really
should be trying to “assure” you. The list of misused and mispronounced words is long and winding. In everyday language, most get by
rather well because we all misuse one or more of these expressions or words so often that it goes without notice. In the spirit of good grammar, however, it behooves us to be mindful of these popular misuses. The person who attempts to use the right words and pronounce them correctly sets the
example for others to follow. In modern times, we’ve all become a bit sloppy with our grammar and word usage. We hear it in the media, we read it in magazines, columns and blogs and we perpetuate it by doing it ourselves. Some of us may say, “What’s the difference?” or “Who cares”? For those who do care, it is a reflection of us. It reflects our intellect, our education and has a profound effect on our career. As the 19 th century German poet Heinrich Hein said, “Talking and eloquence are not the same: to speak and to speak well are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks.”
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