Want to Sound Smarter?

11 Common Phrases or Words You are Using Wrong


Grammar mistakes such as missing a comma or other things of that nature can be easily overlooked. Grammar studies seem to be severely lacking, and most people don't know the finer points. When you use phrases or terminology incorrectly, it shines a light on you that you'd probably rather not be. If you want to come off as an educated professional, you need to make sure you are using the proper language. Written communication is so important; we want to make sure you're coming off in a positive manner rather than making mistakes that can be captured in a screenshot or click of a button. Save the embarrassment for someone else.

Here is a round up of 11 terms or phrases commonly misused every day:


1.     For all intensive purposes should be for all intents and purposes:

This one is bumbled all the time. Once you get it down, you'll never forget it. The idea that you've been saying it wrong all, this time, is what will keep you from getting it wrong again in the future.


2.     In regards to should be in regard to:

This frequently heard phrase of business jargon is often made plural, which is incorrect. To introduce a topic utilizing this phrase make sure to keep it singular and you are in the clear.


3.     Irregardless should be regardless:

I hear this one come up in conversational interchanges continually. Irregardless is not a word. Regardless is all you need to make your statement. (Even the spell check of this post keeps alerting me to the word!)

Regardless means without regard. Adding the ‘ir’ prefix to the beginning is just creating a double negative. When you use it, you effectively say: without without regard.


4.     Suppose to vs. supposed to:

There's a lot of grammar that goes into the explanation of this one. The nitty-gritty of it is supposed to reflect a requirement while suppose is more a possibility or thought. For example:

I suppose I could go out tonight.

It's a loose idea or opinion. It lacks the obligated, solid feeling of the other.

I am supposed to be home by 10 PM because that's my curfew.


5.     Who vs. whom:

Once you learn how to use these properly, your writing will benefit greatly. Grammarly provides the clearest advice:

“If you can replace the word with ‘he’ or ‘she,’ use who. If you can replace it with ‘him’ or ‘her,’ use whom”.

You can see examples and the proper grammar explanation on their site. Most people get this one wrong, master it, and you'll be ahead of the curve.


6.     Doing a 360 is actually a 180 (if you want to get the meaning right):

When trying to illustrate that you've made a reversal on an issue you’re not doing a 360 turnabout, you're doing a 180. Half of a circle is 180 degrees, 360 degrees is a complete circle and brings you right back to where you started. If you change your mind or position, and you want to describe it in this manner, use 180.


7.     Mute point is moot point:

This is just a case of using the wrong word. Mute is for your TV; moot means irrelevant. Make a note of it and move on.


8.     Confusing flush it out with flesh it out:

I love this phrase, but I hear it jumbled so often. (Especially from creative people so freelancers, make note!) Fleshing something out is adding details, clarifying what's going on, adding to the understanding of something or its development. Flushing something out has nothing to do with building a concept. Take note next time you flush the toilet. Everything goes down the drain. You're removing rather than adding. Keep that imagery in your mind and you’ll never confuse this one again.


9.     Affect vs. effect:

This is one that still gets me on occasion. I always find myself consulting Grammar Girl's site since she explains the difference in-depth and way better than I can. Effect is typically a noun, used when talking about results while affect is usually a verb, which has to do with influence. Check out her post on this one, you can thank me later.


10.   Misuse of penultimate:

Penultimate is a word people seem to use to sound smarter than they are. Unfortunately most misuse it. It means second to last. It has nothing to do with being the “ultimate” in the sense of greatness or above the rest. Stop trying to use it that way, frankly, stop attempting to use this one at all.


11.   Literally vs. figuratively:

This one is a personal pet peeve of mine. Figuratively is talking in the abstract, it's something symbolic or representative of something else. Literally means exactly what you're stating, what actually happened, it's not an exaggeration it is a fact! It's not just something you throw around at the end of a sentence like you're in a teen rom-com.

Master these 11 commonly misused phrases and you'll be a cut above your peers and speak and write in a much more educated and professional way. We've included a fun infographic with this one that you can keep for reference and share with your friends. Put it into use and sound smarter today!