Posted by: Jack Henry | June 21, 2018

Editor’s Corner: Incorrect Phrases

Good morning, friends.

I’ve been keeping a list of phrases that about half the English-speaking world seems to get wrong. I know there are a lot more than I’ve listed here, but these are the ones I see and hear most often. Because the mistakes are so prevalent, I thought I’d share them with you so that you can avoid them.

Correct term Incorrect term Correct example Reason
I couldn’t care less I could care less I couldn’t care less if you eat the last piece of pizza. It doesn’t make sense to say you “could care less.” That means you actually care to start with.
Light bulb went on Light bulb went off Oh, I see what you mean! The light bulb just went on. When you have an idea, the light bulb turns on. If it turns off while you’re thinking, you have a problem.
Flesh out Flush out You need to flesh out your argument. To “flesh out” means to expand. Let’s not think too much about what “flush out” means.
Regardless Irregardless I will swim in the Pacific Ocean today, regardless of the frigid temperature. You don’t need the prefix “ir” and the suffix “less.” They both serve to negate.
Should have

(could have,

would have)

Should of

(could of, would of)

I should have told you I was going to stop by. This mistake is made as a back formation of “should’ve.” It sounds like “should of” but is actually a contraction of “should have.”
Fewer than Less than Your tweet must be fewer than 140 characters. People often use “less than” when they should use “fewer than.” Use “fewer” for things you can count (like 140 characters) and “less” for things you cannot count (like love).

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

8985 Balboa Ave. | San Diego, CA 92123 | Ph. 619.278.0432 | Ext: 765432

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