We all make mistakes, and sometimes, we may not even know they are mistakes. Every speaker of the English language commits mistakes. Some may be minor and forgivable, while others ought to be pointed out and corrected. This is especially true for mistakes that have become ingrained into everyday speech that people already think they are correct.
Recently, I came across the t-shirt above, making me think about grammar practices that have become so common that it may come as a surprise to some that they are actually incorrect! Let’s take a look at some of them, shall we?
I have a friend who always uses this line. Of course, it has been pointed out that it is not the correct way to say it, but how can you argue about it when the line is printed on Homer Simpson’s t-shirt? 😉
As cool as Homer is, the t-shirt is wrong. The correct phrasing is “try to”. You try to do something, not try and do something. I am sorry if I have ruined your perception of the t-shirt, but at least next time, you won’t write the phrase in the wrong way!
Can’t help but…
Guilty as charged! This phrase is described as non-standard usage, but it is technically incorrect. I will not even try TO count the times I have used this phrase in my lifetime, but I will make it a point to stop using it.
So what shall I say instead? The rule is to use a gerund (verb + -ing) after “can’t/cannot help”. I have to be honest and say that sometimes, I can’t help using the incorrect form.
I guess we can all learn something from The King: “I can’t help falling in love with you”.
I could care less.
Could you care less or couldn’t you care less? Actually, depending on the context, either can be used. You probably already know what context I am talking about. If someone tells you something, and you want to send a message that you simply don’t care, then the second phrasing is the correct one.
I couldn’t care less about people going on a shopping spree and posting about it on Facebook, because I really am not interested.
These are the mistakes I can think of right now. Do you have any?
Image via neogaf
Miriam Pia says
The truth is that my English grammar improved when I lived in England 1994-1999. This is despite having been raised in a well educated family: every parental figure had a graduate level degree. It can be embarrassing, especially when one believes oneself to be a well educated, highly literate person to discover that one has been abusing the language for some time.
It is also true that language changes. The biggest difference is that in American English the feminine forms of words have been brutalized even as the women have made progress in rights etc.. Ironically, when these same types of people do research, they will cite the use of feminine forms of words as indicating a more feminine – friendly culture. The English still use many feminine forms. I think a lot of women and children just fail to politely correct friends who don’t know the feminine form: heroine, manageress….but then there are terms like mistress which – although still correctly used in England, in the USA have been reduced to implying that a woman is having sexual relations with a man who has another woman as his wife. Bizarre, and painful but apparently true. Because of that we can’t get Bachelorette and Mistress degrees from universities.