15 Words And Phrases You're Probably Saying Incorrectly

Some people mumble. Others repeat nonsensical sayings they just don’t understand.

Whatever the reason, we’ve bastardized parts of the English language.

The 15 word and phrases below often come out incorrectly. Let’s set the record straight.

1. For all “intents and purposes” — not for all “intensive purposes”

If you say “for all intensive purposes,” you mean “for all these very thorough purposes.” That doesn’t make any sense.

On the other hand, “for all intents and purposes” means “for all the reasons I did this and all the outcomes.” It’s a much stronger cliche.

2. Nip it in the “bud” — not nip it in the “butt”

This phrase should imply you cut a new bud (off a plant), not bit someone in the backside.

3. One “and” the same — not one “in” the same

“One in the same” refers to one thing in a group of other things that look the same — a meaningless sentiment. “One and the same” is a more emphatic form of “the same.”

4. “By” accident — not “on” accident

While both terms have become acceptable, “by accident” is technically correct.

So you do something “on purpose” but “by accident.” English is crazy.

5. “Home” in — not “hone in”

Even though most dictionaries now list both as accepted usage, “home in” is the original phrase. It means to approach a target or goal, while “hone” means to sharpen.

You can “hone” your skills, but a detective would “home in” on a suspect.

6. Case “in” point — not case “and” point

“Case in point” means, “Here’s an example of this point I’m trying to make.” The version with “and” says your point is separate from your case, which isn’t helpful to your argument.

And for the record …

7. “Cases-in-point” — not “case-in-points”

Whenever there’s a hyphenated noun phrase, remember to attach the “s” to the word that’s actually being pluralized.

In this case, there are multiple “cases” in which you are making a point.

“Brothers-in-law,” “attorneys-at-law,” “chiefs-of-staff,” etc. all fall into this category.

For frequently used single words with suffixes, you would want to pluralize the entire word — like “teaspoonfuls.”

8. Should/could/would “have” — not should/could/would “of”

Using “of” here is just wrong. In this case, you need to pair a verb with another verb. Otherwise, people will think “of” what?

9. You’ve got another “think” coming — not you’ve got another “thing”coming

So what “thing” do I have coming? Instead, saying “You’ve got another ‘think’ coming” means someone should think again. The phrase was originally, “If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming.” We just dropped the first clause.

If you don’t believe us, here’s an example from the Washington Post in 2011, as noted by The Grammarist.

The phrase even dates back to The Daily Argus News in 1897.

10. “Wreak” havoc — not “wreck” havoc

To “wreck” havoc means to destroy havoc, which is the exact opposite of this phrase’s meaning. When you “wreak havoc,” you’re spreading chaos, anarchy, and destruction.

11. I “couldn’t” care less — not I “could” care less

If you “could” care less, you’re admitting there are other, less important things in world, which takes away the sting of your comment.

By saying you “couldn’t” care less, you mean nothing else exists on the planet that matters less you. Major burn.

12. Try “to” — not try “and”

Consider this example: I’m going to try and dance. So what are you going to try while you’re dancing? Vietnamese food? A new hat?

Instead, say “I’m going to try to dance,” meaning you will attempt to move your body in a rhythmic way.

13. “Beck and call” — not “beckon call”

Having someone at your “beck and call” means they cater to your every need. “Beckon call” doesn’t even grammatically make sense. “Beckon” is a verb, which can’t modify an adjective.

14. “Tongue-in-cheek” — not “tongue-and-cheek”

Back in the 19th century, “to speak with one’s tongue in one’s cheek” meant “to speak insincerely.” Today, it could also mean irony, exaggeration, or mischievousness.

15. Of “utmost” importance — not of “upmost” importance

While any phrase with the word “up” might automatically make it seem of top priority, “utmost” is actually the word you want to use.

BONUS: “Bold-faced lie” — or “bald-faced” lie

Dictionaries vary in their identifications and definitions of these phrases, but generally, either is considered appropriate.

Some, however, show slightly different meanings. “Bald-faced lie” could refers to an untruth that’s easy to spot or understand, while “bold-faced” means one told without shame or guilt. But the meanings do overlap.

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