70 Words (and Phrases) You’re Probably Using All Wrong
We've compiled 70 words and phrases we've all used wrong at some point. They're cringe-worthy. They're hilarious. And they're going to help you never make the same mistakes again.
We assume you're using "supposably" to mean "according to what many believe." If so, then the word you're actually looking for is "supposedly."
If what you mean is "without a shadow a doubt," then you have two choices, and neither of them is "undoubtably." You can say either "undoubtedly" or "indubitably." Either one is correct. Just don't mash them together to create an eggcorn. These are the 10 magic phrases to make anyone trust you.
Yeah, yeah, we know what you're about to say: The Merriam Webster Dictionary acknowledges irregardless as a "word" because for all intents and purposes (see what we did there?), its improper use has been so stubborn and pervasive that it's become an actual word. However, "it is still a long way from the general acceptance," the dictionary editors acknowledge as they recommend that everyone please remove the "ir" from the beginning of irregardless and call it what it is: regardless.
Did you say "should of" when you really meant "should have"? That's another eggcorn, but now you know better. It's "should have," "would have" and "could have." There is no "of" in any of these phrases.
This one could get dangerous because it literally means the opposite of what you think it means (and yes, that was the correct use of "literally"). Inflammable means the same thing as flammable, which is to say, "combustible" or "capable of being set on fire. So if you're in the market for a good pot-holder, you should ask for one that's not flammable.
You're welcome to use the word "entitled" to describe someone who believes him or herself to be inherently deserving of special treatment. But if you use it interchangeably with the word "titled," you're doing it wrong. Instead, just say "titled," as in "that book, titled The Leftovers, was made into an HBO series." Speaking of book titles, have a laugh at these surprisingly awful book titles to world-famous books.
If you're trying to say that someone is "very famous," then you're using the wrong word. "Infamous" means "famous for a negative reason." Thus, the Joker is infamous for his malicious ways and his evil laugh, while Batman is famous for solving crimes in the city of Gotham.
If you're not talking about promising to compensate someone for damages, loss, injury, or death in exchange for advance payment, then you're using this word wrong. If you're talking about making sure of something, then you want to use "ensure." If you're talking about guaranteeing something, then you'll want to use "assure."
Affect versus Effect
We often confuse these two words because they sound so much alike and cover so much of the same ground. Here are some rules of thumb to follow when trying to decide which to use:
- Affect is a verb that means to have an influence on. For example: The weather affected my mood.
- Effect is a noun that refers to the influence: For example: The weather had no effect on my mood.
- Sometimes "affect" is used as a noun to refer to feeling or emotion. For example, "Her face bore a dismal affect." Using all three together: The weather always affected her mood. I could tell by her dismal affect that she'd been feeling the effects of seven straight days of rain."
- Sometimes "effect" is used as a verb when it means to cause something (which is a stronger verb than "affect," which refers to merely having an influence on). Thus, you would "effect change," and could be described as "effective."
- By contrast, you would not use "affective" to describe someone who gets things done. The word "affective" is used to when describing moods, and especially when describing mood disorders. For example, "He has an affective disorder. We aren't yet sure if it's depression or anxiety."
Poisonous versus Venomous
Poisonous refers to something that is toxic if you eat it. Venomous describes something that is poisonous if it bites you. Snakes can be venomous; they cannot be poisonous. Speaking of snakes, can you spot the snake in this photo? If so, you're one of a very few.